Career planning courses increase career readiness of graduate and postdoctoral trainees

Rebekah L. Layton, Keith J. Micoli, Nathan L. Vanderford, V. Scott H. Solberg, Arthee E. Jahangir, Joshua D. Hall, Christine A. Ponder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background: Given national calls for intentional career development during graduate and post-graduate scientific training, this study assessed career readiness development within the context of academic career courses. The current study evaluated the effects of academic career courses offered at two institutions that were specifically designed to increase career awareness, interest, and career-related confidence among doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows. Methods: Participants enrolled in a career course at trainees' respective academic institutions and responded to pre- and post-course surveys (n=32, n=148). The paper offers a thematic analysis of each of the two courses using an individualized learning plan career development framework and describes the results of their respective pretest-posttest evaluations which indicated increases in career readiness. Results: Though the format and content provided in each course varied, participation was associated with increases in career readiness. Participants reported increased career-awareness including a greater familiarity with different types of careers overall. Furthermore, interest in tenure track faculty careers increased in both samples, which may assuage fears that exposure to diverse career pathways could reduce interest in academic careers. Transferrable skills, including career planning and awareness also significantly increased. Course participants reported an increase in the number and type of mentors they interacted with beyond their principal faculty mentor (other faculty, professional PhDs, peers, and administrative staff). Conclusions: Findings provide supporting evidence for the benefits of implementing structured career development efforts during PhD training; even with varying content, delivery methods, and instructor type, both academic career courses led to significant gains in career awareness and readiness. Successful development and delivery of academic career courses, with a focus on career planning skills, suggest that institutions can utilize these and are an effective way to prepare PhDs for their transition from training positions into careers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1230
Number of pages1
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright: © 2020 Layton RL et al.


  • Graduate education
  • career choice
  • professional development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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