What's in a name?

Doug's Message

Welcome back after the holiday season. I trust that it was both refreshing and enjoyable.

For many of you, this is the time to look seriously for 'what’s next'?

That may start with the concept of an academic position, as this was your rationale for engaging in a graduate program in the first place. Starting out, those who have a subject area interest in mind could choose to focus on a particular supervisor. However, the reality is that most of you will be examining several options, although perhaps in a general research area.

Online searches can be useful to discover what types of research are being done and by whom. You may be accessing resources to begin your search and in contact with multiple potential supervisors whose research overlaps in some way with your interests. While others may be even more open to finding a supervisor with much broader spectrum of perspective.

With that perspective being more common when entering a potential graduate program, is the same evident for those finishing their graduate training? Indeed it is. At one time the description of options was labelled as academic or 'alternative' careers. The reality is that the majority of graduates in careers are employed and enjoying satisfying careers in non-academic positions. Thus the real 'alternative' is the academic career, as the majority are in non-academic careers.

What are you doing to take on this responsibility for yourself to determine what would be most appropriate for you?

Many of you are very familiar with the use of online resources to look for information. Still, are you using this same availability to look for career opportunities for you?

You are being trained for employment.

A recent survey conducted by the Council of Ontario Universities found that 94 per cent of all Ontario graduates were employed within 24 months of leaving their institution. What is often not recognized are the employable skills that you take with you when you graduate — skills such as problem solving, critical thinking and oral and written communication.

Western University and Schulich Medicine & Dentistry are providing information to assist trainees to develop their career aspirations — both academic and non-academic.

The Student Success Centre together with the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, provides information sessions and has information available online on Grad Path, which has multiple resources for information and contacts with potential employers.

At the School, the concepts are introduced in the milestone for new graduate students. Many of the School's departments organize career days during the year in which former graduates are invited to share stories of their careers and what from their graduate training was helpful in preparing them for those careers.

There are workshops organized during London Health Research Day with trainees, faculty and corporate partners to provide information helpful to trainees explore options.

Funding provided by MITACS can also be very useful in looking for interactions with industry and global opportunities.

Some departments are also exploring modified graduate programs which will be useful for alternate career options, online capabilities or internships.

The opportunities and possibilities after completing your training are changing and quite extensive.


Doug Jones

Vice-Dean, Basic Medical Sciences