Often too busy at work in labs, lecture halls, and libraries to plot their career paths, graduate students now have a unique set of online training resources to help them make the leap into the work world and to succeed in any career.
Recognizing the unique experiences of graduate students, a group of Ontario universities has come together with the help of funding from the Ontario government to develop www.mygradskills.ca, a set of free online professional skills training tools that will help grad students find their future.
"Graduate students have a very different experience at university than undergrads," says Bonnie M. Patterson, President and CEO of the Council of Ontario Universities (COU).
"Being asked to scour literature, analyze data, write papers and take classes is an intense experience. Grad students find it challenging to allocate time to consider what's next, and so universities are offering them this extraordinary free professional development program to take online – in their own time and at their own pace."
MyGradSkills.ca, developed by the Ontario Consortium for Graduate Professional Skills, is available starting today to any Ontario graduate student. Using their university email account, students can log in to view 18 short, self-paced training units on topics such as how to write a resume, how to conduct a job search, the art of entrepreneurship, teaching and learning, and academic and professional communications.
The online professional development will benefit those who are interested in a career in academia, as well as those seeking to put their credentials to use in business, government or non-profit organizations.
The initiative highlights Ontario's leading role in graduate education, and the consortium – made up of seven leading research-intensive universities – hopes one day to make the training resources available to graduate students all over the world.
"MyGradSkills.ca is a fantastic resource, and yet another way that Ontario universities are preparing graduate students, especially PhD students, for careers after graduation," says Allison Sekuler, Associate Vice-President and Dean of Graduate Studies at McMaster University, who led the initiative and is also past chair of COU's Ontario Council on Graduate Studies.
"We are thrilled to be able to offer this novel way to provide professional skills training and to take on this leading role in graduate education. By working together, Ontario universities were able to provide a broad suite of training resources for students. It's a great example of how partnerships can help us do more for less. We're looking forward to expanding the resources and bringing on partners from across Canada and the world."
The seven universities that are part of the consortium that made this possible are McMaster University, Queen's University, University of Guelph, University of Ottawa, University of Toronto, University of Waterloo, and Western University.
"Ontario universities are taking a leadership role in helping to prepare graduate students for the future. Whether these bright young minds decide to stay in academia or begin careers in other professions, with the help of MyGradSkills.ca, grad students will have the assistance and tools they need to succeed at the next level." – Hon. Reza Moridi, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities
"As graduate students, we don't always have time for in-person workshops – we're often immersed in research, traveling for field work or conferences, and teaching undergraduate students. So being able to access this sort of information online is a real plus." – Coleen Even, PhD student, University of Waterloo
- Ontario educates the largest number of graduate students in Canada. More than one-third of graduate students in Canada are enrolled in Ontario.
- Graduate students comprise about 14 per cent of all students enrolled in Ontario universities.
- Since 2001-02, graduate enrolment in Ontario has increased by nearly 80 per cent.
- Graduate education plays a critical role in economic growth and development through research and innovation.
- Graduate degree holders have higher earning potential than those with other credentials, and they contribute higher taxes.
COU is a membership organization of 21 publicly assisted universities in Ontario. It works closely with the provincial and federal governments to shape public policies that help universities deliver high-quality programs for students and advance the research and innovation that improves the social, cultural and economic well-being of Ontarians.