When I talk to graduate students about their future careers, it oftenbecomes clear that their only focus is on finishing their graduate programs.Finishing your degree is very important, but it is essential to remember thatthis is not the end of your journey. For a lot of professions, getting yourdegree is just the beginning and the bare minimum for what you need to enteryour field. When trying to survive the vast amount of programmatic demands, itis easy to lose sight of the fact that you are in your program to prepare for acareer. So instead of spending time thinking about what they need to makethemselves competitive for their respective job markets and to be successful intheir careers, students spend all their time just trying to finish programmaticrequirements. Again, doing well and completing your program requirements isnecessary and vital for your career. However, if you spend all of your timedoing this and little time planning for the future, you will likely be vastly underprepared and uncompetitive for the job you spent so many years obtaining a degree just to be eligible for. Therefore, I suggest that you spend at least around 25% of your time in graduate school planning and obtaining the skills you need to be successful in your career. Several of these skills will be built into your program and/or available at your university. However, some of these opportunities may require you to attend a workshop or take classes outside of your university. For example, I had to travel to another university to take a class on conducting quantitative research specifically among BIPOC communities because I knew this would improve my competitiveness for my career. Always remember, graduate school is not a career; it is a steppingstone to help you achieve the career you want.

Nelson O. O. Zounlome, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

NASEM- Ford Foundation Fellow

Herman B. Wells  Fellow