Mar 09

Turn Spring Break Into Your Lucky Break

Spring Break is next week, and while many undergrads will be traveling to faraway lands of sunshine and sand, the graduate students who are taking or teaching classes will enjoy having additional time to focus on other initiatives. In fact, next week can be one of the most productive job search opportunities, even if it’s structurally no different from any other week this semester. At this midpoint between January and May, take advantage of the chance to energize your job search by stepping away from your normal routines. We recommend a combination of the following in order to become #IrishReady.

  • Informational Interviews. Set them up now for next week. Reconnect with old colleagues, or meet with someone new to learn about their current career. While you should “always be networking (ABN)” every day anyway, use Spring Break to be inspired by these conversations. Can you set a goal to have two cups of coffee next week, one with someone new and one with someone from your past or present?
  • Spring clean your social media. If you are currently or soon to be on the job market, use Spring Break to review your social media profiles. Clean up any outdated information and remove anything that would convey an unprofessional or unfavorable image of yourself. Employers will check these platforms to learn about their interview candidates, do you really want those old party pictures from college influencing your current aspirations? Finally, if you haven’t already done so, start developing your LinkedIn profile. It’s the best overall platform for cultivating an online reputation as a professional and scholar.
  • Conduct career research. Use sites like VersatilePhD and the many others linked on our list of online Career Resources. Online research can be done at your convenience, and Spring Break offers additional time and convenience. Learn about the skills and backgrounds sought by employers in different sectors, gain insights into recommended ways to promote those skills on application documents, and discover growth industries that you can target for efficiency and success.
  • Ramp up your writing. While it is likely too late to register for next week’s Dissertation Boot Camp, Spring Break does offer the chance to renew your focus on finishing that chapter or turning last semester’s conference paper into a published article. Make it your goal to submit something by next Friday.
  • Attend local events. Staying in South Bend over Spring Break? Get out into the community and make connections that could help with #1 above. One such event is a lunch with Mayor Pete Buttigieg, hosted by the South Bend Young Professionals Network. YPN is the premier young professionals group in the region, providing professional development and networking opportunities for 21-39 year olds. If the busy schedule of the semester usually prevents you from getting involved, take advantage of break and check it out. Early bird registration discount ends March 11th.

Whether Spring Break is a chance for you to put your classes aside or simply a week like any other, these five activities can help you be #IrishReady in your job search. What are other ways you plan to turn Spring Break into your lucky break?


Feb 23

Always Stay Ready

One of our keynote speakers at the National Career Development Day campus conference was Gabrielle Edwards from The Infinity, LLC. Gabrielle has over 18 years of experience in human resources and employee relations. In addition to offering comments and relevant advice on career development from her professional career and experience, she passed along some wisdom from her family.

“Always stay ready so you don’t have to get ready.”

This is not about getting dressed and brushing your teeth in the morning. It is a state of mind related to career readiness and preparation so you can take advantage of opportunities that come your way. It allows you to stay nimble in your career and avoid delays when unforeseen events occur (both positive and negative).

Here are some things you can do to stay ready:

  • Keep your resume and CV updated. If you have a great conversation with someone who wants to forward your resume to a colleague who is seeking someone with your area of specialty, you want the ability to send it right away without having to spend hours creating or updating it.
  • Build your network on LinkedIn. The standard recommendation for number of contacts on LinkedIn is to start with ten times your age. Having a robust network on LinkedIn can grow your opportunities exponentially, and there are plenty of success stories for the power of LinkedIn. In addition to my own personal success story, an ND graduate student was recently recruited by Amazon through LinkedIn due to her foreign language proficiencies listed on her profile.
  • Have a mentor. No one needs to pursue career success on their own. In addition to the assistance provided by your advisor and Graduate Career Services, seek out a mentor, confidant, sounding board, or supporter who will tell you the truth about your skills and value, help you learn from your past experiences, and use insights from their past experiences to help you navigate future situations.
  • Continually develop new skills. You have many skills. Anyone pursuing a graduate degree will develop and apply skills that are both related to their specific field and also transferable to any position. By continually adding to your skillset you will be ready to take on new opportunities and grow your career over time. Want to find a competitive advantage on the job market? Find experiences that will give you these increasingly important skillsets.
  • Attend Professional Development workshops. The graduate school offers professional development workshops throughout the school year to help you develop competencies related to research, teaching, your career, and ethics. Find one that fits your needs here.

A DGS recently identified a secret to success: students should have options “in mind and in motion.” It takes time to build your network, develop strong application documents, learn about interesting career pathways, and launch a career. Graduate Career Services helps you be #IrishReady for success. What are some of the ways you “always stay ready”?

Feb 09

Graduate Career Services: A Student Perspective

Periodically, we will have guest blog posts to provide different and unique perspectives. Today, first-year English PhD student, Trish Bredar, describes her experience meeting with a Graduate Career Consultant.


Graduate Career Services: A Student Perspective

By Trish Bredar

It’s never too early to meet with a Graduate Career Consultant. As a first-year doctoral student, I’m years away from entering the job market and tend to focus on more immediate concerns: seminar papers, comprehensive exams, publishing, etc. Nevertheless, that future career search is always in the back of my mind. Like most PhD students, my goal is to secure a tenure track position at a university. And, like many PhDs, I’m also aware that the job market looks pretty grim. So even though I have a nice four-year cushion, I believe it’s important to keep my options open as I plan and prepare for my future career.

That’s where Graduate Career Services comes in. Even at the earliest, exploratory stages of career planning, their consultants can provide resources and services to help you on your way. I walked into my first appointment with only a vague idea of what I wanted to talk about and I walked out with a new set of resources and a few action-oriented goals for my first year. Based on my experience, I’ve compiled a brief rundown of some topics you might cover in an initial GCS visit:

  • Career-assessments: If you’re not quite sure what your ideal career looks like, or if you want to explore a few career alternatives, GCS has both formal and informal assessments to help you hone in on the industries, positions, and work environments best suited to your values, interests, and skills.
  • Web presence: Learn how to cultivate your professional identity online and get the most out of networking sites like LinkedIn. Building your network is a gradual process with a small time commitment, so it’s a perfect project to work on over the course of your graduate career.
  • Resume and CV review: This is another task that you shouldn’t leave until the last minute. Have a professional look over your materials; they can help you revise your current documents and provide tips for keeping your resume and CV streamlined and up-to-date as you add new experience.

Of course, these are just a few starting points. Your needs will be different depending on your program and your unique career path. Take the time to sit down with a graduate career consultant and discover the GCS resources that make sense for you. Get started by e-mailing

Jan 20

New Year. New Look.

This guest blog post comes from our Director of Graduate Career Services, Larry Westfall.



Every January I find myself caught in the same conversation: “what am I going to resolve to do this New Year?” Some of my friends couldn’t wait to tell me their New Year’s resolution and it was barely past Christmas. Of course, I felt the pressure of needing to respond with one of my own lest they think that I’m unable to resolve to improve myself or come up with something that’s deemed worthy of being called a resolution. So I dutifully pulled out my mental go-to list – join the gym, eat healthier, call Mom more frequently – and tried to remember which one I used last year and whether I actually did it.

But not all resolutions have to be about losing weight or exercising more or stopping some annoying habit. They can also be about what we want to do for others, how we can make a difference in someone else’s life, or how we can use our gifts to respond to the needs of others.

And that’s just what we did in Grad Careers for 2017. We resolved to make your career journey less complicated with a more comprehensive set of tools and resources and a repository that makes it easier to not only find career information but put it to good use. It’s a New Year, a New Look, and a New Website for Grad Careers.

The new look and content to our website have been in the works for the past year and we are excited that we are able to launch in 2017. We resolved early on to develop an enhanced website and resources that would facilitate student, faculty, employer, and alumni engagement. We wanted a website that would result in increased opportunities for communicating information across our various constituencies. And lastly, we wanted a more user friendly website that remained true to our mission of preparing graduate students to achieve strong career outcomes after their time at Notre Dame.

We think we met our objective and would welcome your feedback on the same. So visit our site to learn about news and upcoming events, explore career development strategies, or discover new resources and let us know what you think. We believe there’s something for everyone. And we’ve even added this new blog, Unhindered Career Commentary, where we will share insights on career-related issues and concerns and will feature commentary from across our many constituent groups including our students.

Oh, and by the way, I did finally set a New Year’s resolution for 2017. I resolved to turn off the TV more frequently and engage the growing stack of books on my nightstand and the cache on my e-reader. So far, I’m on track, having just finished Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman, but then again, it’s still early days.

Until next time be #IrishReady! We are. Are you?


» Newer posts