MA and PhD Career Development Resources
Finding a career path requires time and effort. GSAS Compass is here to assist you with that process. Below, find a collection of resources to help you self-assess, research, and explore possible career paths; develop your job search materials; network and connect to the GSAS community, alumni, and potential employers; and gain experience.
Also, see here for resources and tips on searching for a job during the COVID-19 pandemic.
GSAS Compass also offers one-on-one career advising appointments. Click here to schedule an appointment.
Self-reflection is an important part of understanding your skills and strengths. Below find self-assessment tools to identify skills, interests, and values. Review these materials, and make an appointment with a career advisor to help facilitate professional exploration.
- The Explore section of the Center for Career Education’s Design Your Next Steps includes a variety of paper-and-pencil self-assessments to help you think about your skills, interests, background, values, and experience. These tools will help connect your preferences to career options.
- MLA Connected Academics: resources designed for humanities doctoral students, but widely applicable to any humanities or social science student interested in a range of career paths
- Self-assessment and career exploration resources
- ImaginePhD: self-assessment and career planning tool for Humanities and Social Science MA and PhD students
- myIDP: self-assessment and career planning tool for students in the Natural Sciences
- Columbia Individual Development Plan (IDP) Program: Designed for postdocs and doctoral students in any discipline, this program involves creating an individual development plan and attending workshops and industry panels.
- One-on-one career advising: Make an appointment to speak with a GSAS career advisor.
Researching and exploring a variety of career paths and industries opens your mind to multiple potential futures, helps you gain the skills and experience necessary to achieve your career goals, and prepares you for your job search. Below are some resources to get you started.
- CCE Industry Guides
- Career Exploration for STEM degrees
- Career Exploration for Humanities and Social Science degrees
- Visit the employment and career pages on your professional/scholarly associations’ websites.
Premium Digital Resources
- GoinGlobal: This is a great resource for those seeking employment outside the US as well as for international students looking for domestic opportunities.
- Vault: Visit Vault for industry fact sheets, company-specific information, and interview strategies.
- LinkedIn Learning Courses: Access LinkedIn Learning modules to learn how to use specific software, develop your elevator pitch, interview, and develop your personal brand.
Once you have identified several possible career paths to pursue, it is time to update your résumé, curriculum vitae (CV), and professional social media profiles. While you should always tailor your cover letter and other job application materials to each position you apply to, you should also keep an updated résumé and/or CV on file. The following resources will assist you in developing your online presence and job application materials.
Résumé (for industry/private sector and most nonprofit jobs)
- Your Résumé: What to Put In, What to Leave Out
- Résumés with impact: Creating Strong Bullet Points
- Optimizing Your Résumé for an Applicant Tracking System (often used by large corporate companies)
- Converting Your CV to a Résumé
- How to Write a Résumé Profile or Summary (helpful for career changers)
- How to Explain Employment Gaps
Curriculum Vitae (for academic, library, and many government and think tank jobs)
- How and Why to Write a Great Cover Letter
- 3 Sample Cover Letters That Stand Out
- Academic cover letter tips
- Tips on Providing a Quality Writing Sample
Graduate school is a great time to expand your professional circle. Seek out connections with alumni from Columbia and your undergraduate institution, build relationships with people in organizations and industries that interest you, and remember that the connections you make with your peers are forming the bedrock of your future network and professional community. There are many ways for students to make valuable professional connections with employers, Columbia alumni, and peers:
- Columbia Alumni LinkedIn exploration tool
- Columbia Alumni Community: Students may sign on and search for alumni from their program.
- How To Use Social Media in Your Career
- How To Create Your Online Brand
In-Person Networking and Informational Interviewing (much of this can be done remotely)
- Professional Networking
- Informational interviewing
- How to Create the Perfect Elevator Pitch
- Graduate Student Consulting Club: case interviews
- Join professional associations in your field, and ask for student membership rates.
- Attend and present at conferences, and apply for funding to defray travel expenses.
Throughout graduate school, you should make an effort to gain hands-on experience in fields that interest you. This can include paid internships, part-time work, volunteering, and participating in student groups. Each time you gain a new experience, take time to reflect on the transferrable skills you demonstrated, and add an entry to your résumé or CV. The resources below will help you find opportunities during graduate school or start your search for a full-time job after graduating.
General Job Boards
The three sites below are the three largest job aggregating websites, which means they use web crawlers to pull open positions from other sites across the internet. Use key words in the industry descriptions below to help you find positions in your field of interest. Also, you can set job alerts on these platforms and get notifications of open jobs sent directly to your inbox.
Additional Job Searching Sites
- GSAS Connect: a job board available only to GSAS students and alumni. See available opportunities and learn about companies hiring from the Columbia community. Students, please log in using "single sign on" option. Alumni, please create a username.
- Campus employment
- Science Mag: Search for jobs in the sciences.
- NYAS Science Alliance: GSAS students in the Natural Sciences are eligible to participate in the New York Academy of Science’s Science Alliance program, which offers workshops, courses, and mentorship and networking opportunities for graduate students and postdocs.
- Higher Education Recruitment Consortium (HERC): job board and job search resources for jobs in higher ed—both academic and administrative
- Chronicle Vitae: another great resource for higher education jobs
- See our pages for Humanities/Social Science and STEM career exploration for industry-specific links.
- Prepare for the Interview: Sample Questions
- Things to do Before, During, and After Your Interview
- Great Questions to Ask During an Interview
- Big Interview: Practice your interview skills with this online program.
- Frequently Asked Questions about Internships
- International Scholars and Students Office (ISSO): Learn about CPT, OPT, and OPT STEM Extension.
- Considerations for Students with Disabilities
Opportunities to Gain Experience on Campus
- The GSAS Teaching Scholars Program affords advanced doctoral students the opportunity to design and teach a course in their area of expertise.
- GSAS Fellowships in Academic Administration allow advanced doctoral students to apprentice each term in Columbia's administrative offices.
- The 3-Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition showcases the research of Columbia’s doctoral student community.
- The GSAS Master's SynThesis Competition gives MA students in Arts and Sciences the opportunity to showcase their research and presentation skills in a relaxed and collegial environment.
- Columbia Entrepreneurship supports, invigorates, accelerates, and motivates innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship at Columbia.
- The Columbia Social Entrepreneurship Group pairs teams of students with social enterprise organizations to provide a wide array of enterprise development services.
- Arts and Sciences Graduate Council (ASGC) and ASGC-recognized student groups
How to Find an On-Campus Job
If you are interested in finding a part-time job on campus as a graduate or research assistant or in other hourly roles, we suggest searching in all the following places:
- If you qualify for financial aid through the Federal Work-Study program, check this website for open positions.
- Search the internship and job database on GSAS Connect, and select the “On-campus” filter in the “Position Type” field.
- Search the Human Resources Careers at Columbia portal and enter “short-term casual” in the search box to see listings of temporary, part-time employment throughout Columbia.
- Watch your inbox during the first few weeks of each term for emails from your department and various offices around campus with opportunities.
- Ask your department administrator if they are aware of any opportunities either with faculty in your department or in other offices.
- Contact faculty directly with whom you would be interested in working as a research assistant. In your email, introduce yourself and your research interests, and ask if they might have any need for a research assistant. Keep your email brief and to the point.