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Career and Graduate School Advising

Mentoring Guide - Graduate School and Career Choices

Faculty are often asked by students about professional life choices. This guide is to give some advice to less experienced advisors. Seasoned advisors know that every conversation is unique and dependent on the individual.

  1. It is crucial that the student take responsibility for all of the final decision making. The faculty advisor can give their own thoughts, but you should remind/encourage the student that these choices are their own.
  2. Have the student activity right down what they want out of life. They may need to go away and think about this first. For some students, actively making a list of likes and dislikes can help them find themselves. They should ask their friends, academic peers, professors, and family what they see, but their final set of decisions belong to the student. The active process of writing it out, however, can be highly instructive to the student.
  3. The student list serves as the basis for giving students examples of next steps that address their interests, goals, and personal life.
  4. Graduate school
    • If their list indicates graduate study as a likely next step, the student will need to find an appropriate program.
    • Your personal knowledge of programs is helpful.
    • Students can look in the catalog at faculty in their area of interest, and talk to them about their graduate school experience and recommendations.
    • Graduate school searching should happen in the penultimate year, so they have an idea about application requirements. This allows them to adjust their final electives or engage in new research projects.
    • Encourage students to examine every aspect of a program, including success of both the program faculty and alumni.
    • If they have a specific idea for future employers, they could ask the employer for perspective on various programs.
  5. Career advice
    • You may get a student who wants to know where to apply for jobs or should they take this job a or job b.
    • The actions the student took in Step 1 above will be paramount in job selection. The decision is theirs. You can provide advice about how one employer or job duties might be better than another, but it is the student’s decision.
    • It is helpful if departments maintain a list of possible job search engines or locations for postings.
    • Your personal knowledge of how to search for employment is also helpful, but this is very discipline specific.
  6. Remind student of GVSU resources: