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Grad Students Make Plans, Do the Timeline

October 28, 2019

Timing may not be everything in graduate school, but it's important. With goals and priorities in mind, grad students from across UMD gathered last week for a workshop to map out degree and career planning timelines. 

Linda Macri, Director of Academic and Professional Development, delivered a session about goal-setting and prioritizing. She addressed procrastination--a common challenge for students and professionals everywhere--and the need for SMARTER goals. SMART goals are typically defined as Specific, Measurable, Achieveable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. For instance, setting a goal to simply "Write" can set a dissertation writer up to fail. Making it more specific and measurable, such as "Today I will revise this chapter," or "I will draft this introduction this afternoon," breaks the goal down into more manageable, achieveable pieces.

"Having recently made a change in my academic field, this workshop helped me reevaluate my goals," said Hunter Kippen, Electrical Engineering doctoral student. 

Macri added the -ER to SMART, noting that goals can be Evaluated, and Revised. Considering progress toward goals helps students to determine their effectiveness and gives them the freedom to shift them if not. 

"My ultimate takeaway from this workshop: Instead of only focusing on my to-do list of tasks, I need to set time aside regularly for goal setting," said International Education Doctoral student Erin Sorensen. "I left this workshop with a much more concrete plan for my degree."

Dr. Susan Martin, Director of Professional and Career Development, shared career development guidance and specific resources within the Graduate School and the Career Center that students can use to help guide their planning.  She noted that many students do not pause to think about how they are going to build a career, because they have been focused on simply getting to graduate school.  

"The process involves knowing yourself and exploring career options," Martin said. "There is not always a straight line between your program and the work you could do or want to do. " She encouraged students to investigate work that alumni from their programs pursue, and to consider what brings them joy and gets them excited about work. 
"These other steps are an important foundation for executing an efficient job search," she said.  

Students had significant time during the workshop to work individually and in teams on Individual Development Plans for Master's or Doctoral Students. 

"The Individual Development Plan (IDP) categories are very helpful and comprehensive," said Computer Science Doctoral student Noemi Glaser. "I appreciate that personal development is included."

Martin specificed that the IDP involves setting professional goals, in addition to mapping the steps to a master's or PhD.  

"Like with any project, just getting starting is half the battle," Glaser said. "I'm glad that I made it to this workshop." 

Students unable to attend the workshop can still access the Doctoral IDP and the Master's degree IDP. Learn more about the Grad Pathways -- Set Your Goals, Manage Your Career; Engage, Thrive and Connect; Become an Expert, and Communicate and Lead -- at the Graduate School. Join the Graduate School at the next Grad Pathways event, "What Are You Going to Do With Your PhD?" on November 21, 2019 from 2:30-4pm  in the Maryland Room (0100 Marie Mount Hall.)  

Contact Information

The Graduate School
University of Maryland

2123 Lee Building
7809 Regents Drive
College Park, MD 20742