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Start the New Year and New Semester by Expanding Your Professional Network

Whether you are a new graduate student or have just returned to campus from near or far, Rackham offers the perfect way for you to start the new year and the Winter ‘17 semester. At Rackham’s Winter Welcome Back event, held on Wednesday, January 11, 2017, from 4pm to 7:30pm on the fourth floor of the Rackham Building, you can not only look forward to meeting fellow graduate students and enjoying the free food, but you will also be taking important steps to start building or expanding your professional network at the University of Michigan and beyond, and finding a fulfilling career path for yourself.

A highlight at this year’s Winter Welcome Back are the 25 Rackham alumni who will be joining the event to network and share career advice with graduate students. Alumni come from a wide range of academic fields and professional careers, and will be able to speak to many different professional interests, answer career questions, and share job search advice. These informal conversations are a space for you to talk about career paths with those who have experience in and outside of academia and to get some advice and perhaps a new perspective from someone outside of your own department or field.

Rackham Student Government and representatives from The Career Center will also be present to introduce themselves, and you will have a chance to learn about all the fantastic professional development resources available to help you succeed in graduate school and prepare for your future career.

Events like Winter Welcome Back could be the beginning or an important stepping stone in finding your career path, as has been the case for Ishita Das, Ph.D. Candidate in Cellular and Molecular Biology, who says: “Rackham has been a great resource for me since the beginning of graduate school. The professional development workshops and events were key in my decision to pursue a career in science policy.”  

As graduate students, it’s easy for us to become overly focused on our highly specialized work, and to talk about career plans mostly with faculty and colleagues in our own departments and fields. Expanding your network beyond your immediate professional environment is key, and may open up new opportunities and perspectives you wouldn’t otherwise have known about or considered for yourself. Ph.D. Candidate Bonnie Applebeet put it like this: “You’re learning deeply about your field and creating new knowledge within it. But that’s not all there is to having a successful career, and not all departments are prepared to arm you with professional development, whether you definitely want a tenure track position, definitely don’t, or are absolutely uncertain.” Rackham events like this one help to bridge this gap and provide valuable career exploration opportunities for graduate students.

Winter Welcome Back is also helping graduate students get set up for the new semester by providing free business cards and free professional headshots a photographer will take at the event and e-mail to you a few days later. That next conference is closer than you think, and you will love having a professional headshot of yourself in the conference program, and business cards with the University of Michigan logo you can pass out to your new professional contacts.

The event is open to graduate students of any Master’s or Ph.D. program, as well as postdoctoral fellows. Katherine Prater, a postdoctoral fellow in Neuroscience sums up her experience with Rackham’s professional development events like this: “I really appreciate Rackham and, in particular, the professional development programs because they are really valuable and often one of the pieces that individual grad programs don’t have the resources to help with. That aspect of graduate education is so important, and I really appreciate that Rackham focuses their efforts there. We’re all scattered around campus, but all grad students have a home here and there are resources for us. Not all grad students know that it’s available; you just need to come.”

Pre-registration for Winter Welcome Back is required at https://secure.rackham.umich.edu/Events/wssel.php. Rackham staff, alumni, and your fellow graduate students are looking forward to seeing you there!