In the world of higher education, May is all about graduation. And of course, graduation brings into sharp focus one question many students dread hearing from friends, relatives, and lab partners alike: “So, what’s next?”

Now, before you shout “Mayday!”, breathe and celebrate your success! It is incredible what you have accomplished, and during a pandemic, too. Enjoy the much-deserved pomp and circumstance. Take time to reflect on your journey. We look forward to celebrating you with the GSAS community at the Harvard Commencement and GSAS Graduation Recognition Ceremony on May 27!

Some of you may have your answer to the “What’s next?” conundrum ready to go. A fellowship, new job within or beyond academia, or other adventure awaits. Or perhaps you are still on the job hunt. That is completely okay--and more common than you would think! I spoke with my wonderful colleagues in the Office of Career Services to ask their advice on how new graduates might approach the next chapter in their professional lives. Director of Graduate Career Services Laura Stark and Assistant Director Caroline Rende shared some valuable insights: 

  • Put structure in place for your career exploration and networking. Summer is a great time to do this work. Take time to complete a self-assessment and get a better understanding of your own values, interests, and skills. The assessment is introspective and highly tailored to help give you direction if you are struggling to identify a starting point and potential career options. Schedule an appointment with Laura or Caroline through Crimson Careers to get started.
  • Connect with your network. Remember that advising village you have cultivated? They are there for you and want to help you. So, lean on them to expand your network and connect with others in your field! Harvard has over 350,000 living alumni. Particularly in light of the pandemic, GSAS graduates are eager and willing to connect with you and lend their support. Leverage Firsthand Advisers to schedule an appointment with an alum for a general, career chat, résumé critique, or mock interview. (P.S. Don’t forget to network with alumni from a previous institution you attended, too!)  
  • Develop your job search documents. In the academic job market, if your CV, résumé, and other documents are always updated, you will be ready to apply in the fall, interview in the spring, and, if needed, reactivate that network again. If you are looking at going into industry, opportunities present themselves at different times, so it is helpful to have a jump start with an updated résumé. 

Check out these other helpful resources and online tools on the Office of Career Services site, especially the recorded webinars, many of which cover the basics that we all need a refresher on like résumés and cover letters, networking, and interviewing. Research and explore your career options tools such as Engage in career exploration exercises such as Imagine PhD and Versatile PhD. Also, did you know that the Office of Career Services works with alumni up to five years after graduation?  They are a fantastic resource to help you figure out your “What’s next?”

Be kind to and take good care of yourselves and one another. Remember to (virtually) visit B-2 and B-Well!

B2 B-Well: Office of Career Services – Your “Mayday” Hero!

Photo by Tony Rinaldo