Understand your career options to enhance your experience as a graduate student. As a new PhD student in Business Administration back in 2005, when I talked about the possibility of a non-academic career, I was advised to rethink my academic choices as the doctoral programs was just for those who were serious about research. As I was keen to finish my studies, I kept my thoughts to myself and continued with my research.
However, over time I realized that as much as I really enjoyed the research, the theories, and understanding the relationship among different variables in the business world, what excited me more was applying the research findings to the business world and actually making a positive impact. So, while working on my thesis, I started to work on other practice-based credentials such as earning my process excellence and project management professional certificates outside of my university environment.
I had many long 20-hour days to manage between the two parallel paths, but upon graduation, I got involved in both consulting and teaching MBA level courses, and realized those long days were worth it. On the one hand, exposure to the real world business environment had a great impact on my teaching effectiveness as my experience enabled me to bring the theory to practice. On the other hand my doctoral studies really helped me succeed in my consulting practice as I have acquired critical thinking, in depth analysis ability and problem diagnosis skills, which are essential to my practice. Both paths complemented one another.
Non-academic experience raised my interest in the academic research. What is interesting is that as I got more exposure to different organizations and gained more experience, I became more interested in research and better understanding the how and why behind different matters. My thesis was on diversity management, but working with diverse teams inspired me to study business diversity more and look for more effective diversity management approaches. Facing diversity -driven challenges in the real world helped me understand the value of my studies and research on effective diversity management.
Finding the balance. Finding the right career path is a difficult journey. Understanding your interests, your inspirations, your training and development process and matching your capabilities and passion with your environment can be challenging but is the key to your success. It is important to understand there is no predetermined right or wrong option, the right option for you is the one that helps you grow, use your skills effectively and maximize your potential. MyIDP provides a great tool to help you examine your skills, interests, and values. And you can start learning how to match your strengths to a career through our modules on The Versatile Graduate and Non-academic Work Search.
MyGradSkills.ca was the right choice for me. It is great news that Ontario universities have come together to develop these helpful graduate professional skills modules and help students develop more skills while in graduate school. MyGradSkills.ca provides you with information on career development, communication, entrepreneurship, research and teaching and help you better understand your career options and develop the necessary skills to success in your chosen career. Becoming the project manager for GPS was the right career choice for me as it was the right balance between academia and practice. Not only did I personally learn a lot from the great scholars I worked with and the informative modules that were developed, but also it has provided me with the opportunity to be involved in a great long needed initiative to help other graduate students develop professional skills and understand their options! And that’s a great thing!
I sincerely hope you value this resource, use it, and let us know what more you like to see on this site!
Dr. Haniyeh Yousofpour is the Project Manager for the Ontario Graduate Professional Skills Consortium (www.MyGradSkills.ca)