Career development services for graduate students

Whether you're looking for an academic job, an internship or job in industry, or pursuing further education, we hope you will take advantage of the services the Engineering Career Development Center offers.

  • Academic Careers

    If you're planning an academic job search, we encourage you to learn about the process and timeline early. Your first applications may be due a year before you graduate, and if you anticipate the search early, you can carve out time to prepare. TIP: Develop an understanding of the career development timeline for graduate students from your first years through your last.

    Advisors, mentors, and colleagues in your department are a great resource for the academic job search. Not only have they experienced it themselves, but they also evaluate, interview, and hire new department members. Seek their advice as you navigate the search process.

    PREPARE FOR AN ACADEMIC JOB SEARCH

     – Understand the hiring timeline for tenure-track, part-time, and visiting positions.
     – Create a list of top schools of interest.
     – Develop an organizational strategy before you begin the search.

    Learn more about preparing for the academic job search.

    CREATE STRONG APPLICATION MATERIALS

     – Understand the elements of a strong CV and cover letter (and review sample teaching and research documents).
     – Identify advisors and mentors you'd like to write your letters of recommendation and speak with them early to request their support.
     – Draft your Research and Teaching Statements and have them reviewed by a trusted mentor. Review samples from the Center for Teaching Excellence

    Review job application samples and advice for graduate students. 

    PREPARE FOR INTERVIEWS

     – Research the institution and department.
     – Identify the the points you most want to convey as you discuss your research accomplishments, research interests and plans, your teaching philosophy and experience, and fit with the institution and department. 
     – Practice answering common questions related to research, teaching, and overall "fit".

    Review a list of sample interviewing questions and advice for the academic job search.

    EVALUATE OFFERS AND MAKE DECISIONS

     – Ask yourself key questions regarding salary, benefits, terms of the appointment, and fit (personal, family, and lifestyle).  
     – Understand elements of the offer that may be open to negotiation. 

    Learn more about the negotiation process for an academic job search.

  • Careers Beyond Academia

    As a graduate student, we know you're balancing teaching, research, mentoring, presenting, and writing with other demands of your time.  

    In addition to scheduling time for your graduate student responsibilities, we also encourage you to carve out time for career exploration and development. TIP: Develop an understanding of the career development timeline for graduate students from your first years through your last.

    JOB SEARCH ESSENTIALS

      – Identify your strengths and skills and reflect on how you can convey them, along with your technical knowledge, to potential employers.
      – Identify career fields and specific employers of interest.
      – Understand the hiring timelines for your fields of interest. Employers may recruit as early as 9+ months before you graduate or hire within weeks of graduation. 
      – Network with peers from both your undergraduate and graduate career, alumni and recruiters who visit UVA, conferences, and other events.
      – Gain experience through internships, course or independent projects, or volunteering. 

    Resources:
    The Job Search for Graduate Students 
    Job and Internship Search Strategies
    Networking 
    LinkedIn Tips
    Online Resources

     

    APPLICATION MATERIALS

    While some of your applications may include a CV, many postings for non-academic career paths will request a resume. 

    Your graduate student resume may differ from your undergraduate resume in that:
      – It can be longer than one page (but usually a max of two pages is recommended).
      – You might include a Profile, Summary, or Qualifcations section at the top. This section is most often used by more experienced candidates who want to introduce and summarize their experience as it relates to the position. 

    Compared to a CV for an academic job search, for a non-academic search, you may not  need to include a long, detailed list of publications and presentations. Instead, consider offering a summary like "Co-authored 4 published articles in professional journals; primary author on 1". 

    Resources:
    Application Materials for Graduate Students
    See more resume advice, along with samples, in the other sections of this page. 

     

    INTERVIEWING

    For many, interviewing is the most overwhelming elment of the job search process. 

    You can ease interviewing nerves by:
      – Thoughtfully reflecting on your skills and experiences.
      – Revisiting the job description to identify the technical skills, transferable skills, and academic and industry knowledge the employer desires in a candidate.
      – Connecting the employer's needs to your experiences and finding examples to illustrate the match.
      – Practicing answers to common and anticipated interviewing questions out loud. 

    Resources:
    Learn about various types of interviews and how to prepare 
    Practice interviewing on your own with InterviewStream 
    Translating skills from a PhD to a non-academic job
    How to hightlight transferable skills

     

    CONSIDERING OFFERS AND MAKING DECISIONS

    There are many factors to consider when evaluating a job, including salary, benefits, fit with your lifestyle, and more. As you review the offer, you may find that you're interested in negotiating one or more elements. 

    Review effective tactics for evaluating an offer and professional ways to approach negotiation conversations. Prepare for managing multiple offers, accepting an offer, and respectfully declining an offer.

    Resources:
    Offers & Considerations
    Job Offer Evaluation and Negotiation
    Making a Decision: Asking for more time, accepting or declining an offer, or withdrawing from the applicant pool

  • Handshake

    Graduate students can use Handshake to:

    • Search and apply for jobs and internships
    • Schedule a one-on-one appointment with a career counselor
    • Search and register for events and programs
  • Resume and CV Advice

    Our team is here to help you craft and improve your professional documents. 

     

    In addition to the advice above from the UVA Career Center and Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs, we often discuss three key topics when reviewing an engineering graduate student's documents:

    Include transferable skills, such as teamwork and communication, in your descriptions.

    In addition to learning about your specific areas of research, readers also want to see evidence of your ability to work collaboratively and communicate technical information to diverse audiences. 

    • Do you mentor undergraduates in your lab? 
    • Do you work in a team that's interdisciplinary by nature and/or do you work with another lab, department, or team at UVA?
    • Do you collaborate with research teams at other universities in the U.S. or internationally?
    • Does your lab have relationships with industry or other partners?

     

    Be sure to tell readers about the clients, stakeholders, and collaborators you partner with in your projects and research.

    In addition to teamwork and interpersonal skills, highlight your strong communication skills. You may have a separate section in your document for Publications and Presentations, but your ability to convey methodology or findings to a variety of audiences does not need to be limited to that section. 

    If you discuss your work, formally or informally, to members outside of your department, be sure to include examples of the talks, demonstrations, poster sessions, and other presentations you've delivered.

    Include the potential impact of your work by providing societal context.

    If you anticipate hiring professionals outside of your direct field reviewing your documents, consider providing context to your research and projects in your bullet points. 

    • Why are the research questions you're exploring important? 
    • What insights and answers could your work provide to something readers are familiar with? 
    • How have you explained your work to someone outside of your field?

     

    Quantify when possible.

    Does your work have the potential to improve efficiency of a process or product? Has your work shown it can reduce something you hoped to see lowered? Share the percent increase or decrease and provide a range if you don't have an exact number.

    Have you helped a business or client save money? If so, can you share how much, rounding if necessary or by providing a percentage if more appropriate. 

    When you quantify your results or potential savings/improvements, readers see evidence that you are results oriented and believe you can continue bringing concrete results to their organization. 
     

  • Events

    Use Handshake to search and register for programs and events designed for engineering graduate students!

    Examples of past events include:

    PhD's Journey to an Industry Position: A Panel Discussion and Coffee Chat
    How to Craft a Cover Letter for Non-Academic Jobs in Engineering 
    Job Search Strategies for Engineering Graduate Students
    PhD Info Session + Tech Talks – sponsored by Google
    Master of Engineering (ME) Career Orientation
    GradSWE Coffee Chat - Faculty with Prior Careers Outside Academia
    Preparing Future Engineering Leaders Series: Journey to an Academic Position
    Data Visualization Workshop 
    The Nuts and Bolts of a Faculty Job Search
    How to Write a Research Statement for a Faculty Job Search
    Faculty with Prior Careers Outside Academia
    Teaching Statements and Teaching Portfolios for a Faculty Job Search

  • Resources

    Job Search Resources:
    Preparing for the academic job search

    Job applications samples and advice for graduate students

    Interviewing questions and advice for the academic job search

     

    The Job Search for Graduate Students 
    Job and Internship Search Strategies
    Networking 
    LinkedIn Tips
    Online Resources

     

    Resume and CV Resources:

    Resume and cover letter development 

    CV elements, form, and style

    CV, resume, and cover letter samples for graduate students

    Job Offer/Evaluation Resources:

    Offers & Considerations
    Job Offer Evaluation and Negotiation
    Making a Decision: Asking for more time, accepting or declining an offer, or withdrawing from the applicant pool

Kevin Scott

"My advisor at UVA always reminded me to 'work harder,' which meant to clearly understand what it was that I was trying to accomplish, and to make sure that I was objectively prioritizing the effort it was going to take to accomplish those goals."

Kevin Scott, former UVA Computer Science Ph.D. student, now Chief Technology Officer for Microsoft Corp.