Discussing nonacademic careers and marketable skills with graduate students early and often

Written by: Lisa Stelzner

Daily Dose of Science Blog

This post is not meant to just brag about the graduate student services that Michigan State University (MSU) offers and make students and former students at other universities feel like they missed out.  However, the focus of this article in the Chronicle of Higher Education is about MSU’s Graduate School’s programs that attempt to reach graduate students throughout their time in grad school (and not just when they are about to graduate) with various resources to help them make the most of their research and careers.  I have noticed over my five years at MSU that the Graduate School has constantly been increasing their resources available to grad students, and I have taken advantage of them as much as I could.

MSU has held quite a few discussion panels and workshops on looking for jobs outside of academia, which is something that many professors either do not support or do not have the experience and knowledge to inform their graduate students about.  There are workshops on how to stay productive and manage your time well, and recently I attended others on sleep (not just the importance of sleep but misconceptions and techniques to help get better sleep) and emotional resiliency.  I have been very happy with the free graduate student fitness classes that have been offered the past couple years, which include cardioboxing, zumba, yoga and cycling, because I didn’t exercise often enough before they were offered and did not feel as healthy.  (Being a cheap graduate student, I didn’t want to pay to use the gym or take normal fitness classes.)

I do hope, for graduate student health and wellness everywhere, that many more universities follow MSU’s example and fully support their graduate students throughout their time in graduate school.


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Lisa Stelzner
I'm a plant biology PhD student studying monarch butterflies in Michigan, but I'm interested in lots of other types of science, too. I am interested in how breeding monarch butterflies choose their habitat based on floral species richness and abundance. Few studies have been conducted on optimal foraging theory when it involves an organism searching for two different kinds of resources, and butterflies are an ideal study system to investigate this, since many species are ovipositing specialists and only lay eggs on one species of hostplant, but are feeding generalists and nectar from a broad variety of flowering forbs.