Strategies for Career Development in STEM

Story written by Breck Sullivan, Laura Markley, and Yige Yang

Graduate students spend hours studying for exams and collecting data for their research so they may one day achieve their dream job. Reaching the ideal scientific career requires skills that students hopefully gain while in academia. However, in their paper entitled Practical Science Communication Strategies for Graduate Students, Kuehne et al. (2014) describe that there is often a disconnect between graduate students and acquisition of employable skills, such as communication. Students in the EMPOWER seminar discussed the obstacles to gaining these skills and what experiences could help students acquire these skills.

EMPOWER Trainees were surveyed on what avenues of science communication they hoped to improve on the most.

A majority of students mentioned that they have taken presentation or communication classes. Students who have teaching assistantships commented that this opportunity helps them explain a concept to a large group of people and teach students through different learning methods. Time, anxiety, and funding, are just a few of the obstacles that prevent practicing scientific communication skills, but students understand the importance of it to help them advance to the next level.

Another aspect that may help graduate students to their dream job is networking. Syracuse University provides opportunities for students to expand their network through career fairs and conferences. For example, the Syracuse CoE Symposium will be held on October 4th, and can provide a chance to talk with researchers in the water and energy fields. For more help on this endeavor, consider the Syracuse University Career Services center ( They offer drop-ins and provide assistance with interviews, resumes, and cover letters so that all students may be successful towards their career path.