Graduate and professional students and postdocs
VCU Career Services provides a variety of career- and professional development-related resources for graduate and first-professional students, and our postdoctoral scholars/fellows. Whether you’re interested in an academic or nonacademic track after graduation, we have a variety of resources to help reach your goals and enrich your career.
We can help you with:
- Resume development
- CV Guide
- CV Formatting Guide
- Cover letters
- Career exploration
- Professional networking
We encourage you to use Handshake and other tools available online to help you determine the best career direction for you. Use this “How to Guide” to find positions in Handshake for candidates with your level of education. Additionally, you can Schedule an appointment with your career advisor or attend one of the many events offered by our office or by your college or school to seek out additional ways to enrich your VCU education.
Beyond Graduate School is an online platform that helps master’s students build their careers. From video lessons on career exploration, to writing application materials, to interviewing and negotiating for that next step — BGS helps master’s students through each stage of their job search.
The PhD Career Training Platform is an online professional development tool where postdocs and doctoral students can explore career options and learn job search strategies to secure employment in academia and beyond.
You have pursued graduate or professional education and now you have a choice – would you like to focus your career on continued research and teaching, or are you more interested in applying what you have learned outside of the academy?
You may have only experienced the academic setting thus far, and if that’s the case, it’s important to investigate what other settings are like and whether they are a good fit for you. Identify what skills and experiences are needed in the sector in which you want to work, and proceed to implement your career plan accordingly.
While it’s true that most careers do not follow a linear or predictable path, to actively manage your career success, it is vital that you consistently reflect on your career goals and plan the steps you will take to achieve them.
These tools can be used on your own time and at your discretion or as a complement to working one-on-one with a career advisor.
Planning tools and resources
- VCU Libraries Career and Professional Development Guide
- myIDP - for Ph.D.s in science
- Graduate Career Consortium Student Resources
Skills, interests and value assessments
The more you know about yourself, the more confident you'll feel in taking next steps. Connecting your values to your studies and career adds clarification. Knowing what you don't want is just as important as knowing what you want. Discovering your interests and uncovering your skills further enables you to take that next step.
- Life Values Inventory: The Life Values Inventory helps you know what your work values are. Prioritizing them is one of the best ways to build a foundation for further career exploration. Whether you're just starting out or you're in the midst of a career change, identifying values and accounting for them in your career plan is essentia
- Myers Briggs Type Indicator: You will need to meet with an advisor for an appointment to discuss taking the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). It is rooted in the idea that there are 16 different personality types. This instrument will give you an understanding of personality factors which aid in determining whether certain career environments would be a good fit for you. It will also provides insight into your interactions with others, both in the workplace and in your personal life.
- StrengthsFinder: You will need to meet with an advisor for an appointment to discuss taking the StrengthsFinder assessment. This tool asks, "What's right with you?" and provides you with your top five strengths. Knowing your top five strengths can be helpful by enabling you to focus in on areas in which you may be interested in working to articulating your skills in an interview.
- Strong Interest Inventory: You will need to meet with an advisor for an appointment to discuss taking the Strong Interest Inventory. The inventory is designed to assess your interests. It compares your preferences to those of people in various careers, so that you can see what types of work you might enjoy most. It also matches your preferences to six broad areas of work and provides you with a three-letter code that you can use to further research careers of interest.
Preparing Future Faculty Program
Learn to become a great professor through the VCU Preparing Future Faculty Program. This short course series provides those interested in careers in academia with the skills necessary to effectively educate and addresses current issues and trends in college classrooms. Courses are open to all degree-seeking graduate students. Graduate students who are enrolled full-time can register for the courses at no additional charge as long as their total semester enrollment does not exceed 15 hours.
Higher education job search resources
The majority of postings for teaching and research opportunities are found in specialized websites that cater to higher education as well as each college or university’s own website. As you begin your search, familiarize yourself with each school’s hiring cycle as they often differ depending upon the institution and sometimes the subject area.
- Higher Ed Jobs
- Higher Education Recruitment Consortium
- Academic Keys
- HigherEd 360
- VCU faculty recruitment
Writing a teaching philosophy
A teaching philosophy is a brief statement that details your outlook on teaching, describes your teaching methodology and justifies your rationale for your methods as an educator. Your teaching philosophy should convince the reader that you think deeply about your approach to teaching and your goals as an educator, and it should summarize the other sections of your portfolio. Learn more about how to write a teaching philosophy.
Writing a research statement
You may be asked to provide a research summary, statement or proposal. Pay close attention to which word is used. In most cases, the word summary signifies that you should focus on your current research. If asked for a statement, focus on writing about your current research as well as your aspirations for future research.
The purpose of such a statement is to provide a search committee a general understanding of your research interests and who you are as a researcher. Research statements also give committees clues about your writing and your potential fit within the department. Learn more about how to write a research statement.
Writing a diversity statement
Many institutions ask for a diversity statement as a part of the application process. A diversity statement is simply a brief synopsis of your philosophy on diversity and can take several forms. It can detail your ability to challenge and support diverse students the classroom, how you address diversity in your research, or how your personal experiences have prepared you to thrive in diverse settings.
An effective statement adds value to your application. Even if it is not requested, it is recommended that you include a brief statement as a part of your application package or include it as a part of your teaching philosophy. Learn more about incorporating a diversity statement into your application.
An intentional and successful job search plan can take months to implement, from the initial research phase to application to interviews to job offer. Get a jump-start on your planning with the resources available to you through VCU Career Services.
Research career fields
Understanding how your interests, skills and experiences match with the variety of career fields out there is an important step in helping you target organizations you’d like to work for and jobs that interest you.
Meet with your career advisor
Your career advisor can meet with you one-on-one to discuss your career goals and answer all of your burning questions:
- When should I start my professional job search? Is it too early? Too late?
- How do I narrow down my options?
- Where do I even begin?
Search for opportunities
- Handshake: A comprehensive job and internship search tool available to all VCU students and alumni for life. Within Handshake, you can search for and apply for full-time, part-time and federal work-study positions that are posted specifically for VCU students and alumni.
- Beyond the Tenure Track: The definitive guide for Ph.D. success beyond academia
- CheekyScientist: A science-focused website for Ph.D.s seeking industry careers
- MyIDP: A science and health care focused site for creating an individual development plan
- PhDs at Work: The “how to” website for networking for Ph.D.s
- Science Careers at Sciencemag: Forums, employer profiles and search resource for careers in science
- ConnectVA.org: Providing information, resources and instant access to nonprofits, civic leaders, volunteers and others interested in improving Metro Richmond
- LinkedIn: Utilize LinkedIn to network with VCU alumni who can connect you to job opportunities.
- Glassdoor: Gain unlimited access to millions of salaries, company reviews and specific interview questions at over 280,000 companies.
- GoGovernment: Learn about the variety of career paths with the federal government.
- Idealist: An interactive site where people and organizations across the globe can exchange resources and ideas, locate opportunities and supporters and take steps toward building a world where all people can lead free and dignified lives
- Indeed: Search job sites, newspapers, associations and company career pages
- OUT for Work Career Center Library: Access LGBTQ career resources, including job search, résumés, interviews and info on coming out at work. The library houses books, magazines, links and video clips.
- Username: outforwork
- Password: cccp2013
- My Skills My Future: An excellent tool for changing careers
- USA.gov: Explore all the different departments within the government.
- USAJobs: Search and apply for most federal government jobs.
- Exam2Jobs: Search by industry.
Career development course
GRAD 610: Career and Professional Development Planning for Graduate Students
Semester course; 1.5 lecture hours per week for nine weeks. 1 credit. Prerequisite: graduate standing. Given a unit of study in Grad 610, students will be able to:
- Determine values, skills, and interests and connect them to career paths utilizing self-exploration and reflection
- Create, update, and maintain the necessary documents (CV, resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile, etc.) to participate in a job search
- Identify career opportunities that are in alignment with their personal skills, values, or interests
- Utilize skills learned to navigate the job search process, including applying, networking, interviewing, and negotiating
We love talking to student organizations, classes and, well, anybody about career services. Fill out our form to request a presentation and someone from our office will get back to you soon.