A host of circumstances empower students to complete their degrees on time, including opportunities for professional development, adequate mentoring and advising, and access to world class facilities.
McMaster Engineering recently approved a requirement that all graduate students must participate in a career planning exercise during their first year of study. This exercise will involve career planning and mentoring in conjunction with a McMaster Engineering Co-op and Career Services (ECCS) staff member.
We are extending co-op opportunities to graduate students. A co-op staff member will work with graduate students and identify opportunities related to their competencies. Having a co-op opportunity for all graduate students, which is not limited to in-program specializations, will be a first for an Ontario university. McMaster Engineering thus will soon be among a handful of four or five programs across Canada and few others in the world, in this regard.
In addition, graduate students will submit a career progression report to their departments yearly. Each of our graduate programs will be asked to assess and forward its 15 best plans. By reading these plans for coherence and thoughtfulness, a subset of students will be identified and introduced to alumni who will serve as one-on-one mentors.
We will also work with graduate students to fund and hold a one-day student conference during the coming year which will focus on professional skills development. This effort is expected to grow to a three-day conference next year. This conference will expose students to networking techniques, resume writing, career development, professional skills improvement and reinforcing basic communication skills.
Our other effort focuses on pathways to the doctoral degree. Many engineering undergraduates harbour a misconception about graduate school, and particularly the objective of an engineering Ph.D. They think that is only suitable for a teaching career.
These undergraduate students do not realize that a Ph.D. graduate is able to access job postings that ask for a five-year (an in some cases a five year plus) experience. Besides, many academic Ph.D. recipients not only teach but also pursue innovation and research.
Since many more engineering Ph.Ds. are placed in industry and government rather than academia, McMaster Engineering is developing modules that will develop the professional skill development of graduate students. These will be taught online and through a number of professional skills workshops each year.
Making additional linkages with industry will help students, particularly domestic undergraduate students, to chart a career path through graduate studies. Attracting even better talent than we do will enhance our scholarship and relationships with industry.
We constantly think of ways to add value to the career opportunities and pathways available to our students, both undergraduate and graduate.