Career Development for Graduate Students: Building a Workshop Series

by Tamara Baker & Julie Newman

Many Career Centers across the U.S. may identify with us at Clemson University’s Michelin® Career Center when we say to our graduate students, “Of course we have services for you.” We provide services and resources to our entire student body, including individual career counseling appointments, workshops, access to job listings, on-campus interviews, and career fairs, to name a few. However, it became very evident three years ago that the career needs of graduate students were not being met. A meeting between our Career Center and the University’s Graduate School led to a lengthy discussion on the special needs of graduate students and how the Career Center could provide deliberate outreach to these special, diverse and talented students. Thus, the “Graduate Student Workshop Series” was born. We have been delivering specialized workshops for this population for almost four years now and have redesigned the workshops based on student and faculty feedback.

In 2004, we held all of our Graduate Student Workshops during the spring semester. Each month we highlighted and marketed a different workshop. Because the Graduate School and the Career Center have a good relationship, marketing the series was easy. We utilized websites for students to register, as well as print media detailing each workshop. Having the students register in advance told us how many students to expect in each workshop, so we could prepare accordingly. Highlighting a workshop each month helped to keep the information fresh on the students’ minds. The following includes a brief overview of each workshop in the series:

Workshop 1: The Resume and Curriculum Vita: All You Wanted to Know and More.”
Basic resume and curriculum vita preparation was discussed as well as the differences and the utilization of each. We involved some of our employers and professors to critique student resumes and curriculum vitae after the program. This was a big hit as it put students in direct contact with our employers. Major points that were highlighted in this program were:

    •What is a CV/Resume
    •Differences between CV/Resume
    •What to include in CV/Resume
    •Information not to include in CV/Resume
    •Wrap up and Q & A

Workshop 2: “Working in the U.S.: Job Searching and Interview Skills for International Students.”
Out of 17,000 students, 2700 are grad students and 1300 are international students. Hence, you can see the importance of this and other workshops in the series. This workshop was designed to teach international students about job searching in the U.S. Participants learned about U.S. employers and visa issues as well as American-style job searching and interviewing. Some of the topics covered include:

    •Visas and Work Permits
    •Resumes and Correspondence
    •Managing a Job Search
    •Personal Testimony from an International Job Seeker
    •Interview Skills - Video
    •Wrap up and Q & A

The Career Center also collaborated with the International Office to present on issues such as visas and work permits. We found these collaborative relationships to be instrumental in designing the workshop series.

Workshop 3: “Dining Etiquette: It’s Easier Than You Think”
Many times employers will conduct part of their interview during a dinner setting. This workshop covered many of the dos and don’ts of the traditional and formal American dining experience. Some topics that were addressed in this series were:

    •What to Do Prior to the Dinner Engagement
    •Rules of Thumb about Dinner Conversation
    •Formal Table Settings
    •Table Etiquette
    •Handling “Sticky” Situations
    •Wardrobe Tips for Men & Women
    •The Second Interview
    •Wrap Up and Q & A

Workshop 4: “Electronic Portfolios”
The University is in the process of including portfolio development into the entire curriculum, so we thought it was important for graduate students to learn the basic components and structure of a professional portfolio. Topics such as the following were covered:

    •What Is a Professional Portfolio
    •Skills Sought by Employers
    •Activities to Help Demonstrate Your Skills to Employers
    •Steps to Creating a Professional Portfolio
    •Wrap up and Q & A

Future Initiatives
For next year, we are considering adding: “Stepping out into Your First Job.” In this workshop, we will highlight professional dress, salary negotiations, corporate culture, etc. We see this workshop series as just the start of many new programs geared specifically for our graduate student population.

In designing your own workshops for graduate students, it is important to remember that this group of students has needs that are different from undergraduate students. Most of their classes are at night, so remember that evening workshops are generally more convenient. Also, try to collaborate with different campus offices when designing and conducting these workshops. Offices such as International Affairs and the Graduate School can offer additional resources. We have learned that students like to receive resources, so we distributed packets for every workshop, containing information and referrals sources. As a result of these workshops, the number of graduate students utilizing the Career Center has risen.

Tamara Baker, M.S. has a master’s degree in community counseling from the University of South Alabama in Mobile, Alabama and a bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences from Grambling State University in Grambling, Louisiana. She is the Assistant Director of Career Development at Clemson University’s Michelin® Career Center. Tamara has worked with the Michelin® Career Center for two and a half years. She can be reached at Email: tamarab@clemson.edu;

Julie Newman, M.Ed. has a master's degree in counseling from Clemson University in Clemson, South Carolina, and a bachelor's degree in Kinesiotherapy from Catawba College in Salisbury, North Carolina. She is the Director of Career Development, Special Projects and Grants at Clemson University's Michelin® Career Center. Julie has worked with the Michelin® Career Center for over fifteen years. She can be reached at
Email: newmanj@clemson.edu;
The Clemson University Michelin® Career Center website can be found at http://career.clemson.edu

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