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Supporting Undergraduate Student Success

What kind of careers am I qualified for with a concentration in EEB? Do I need to go to graduate school? What should I include on my CV? How can I get research experiences?

These are some of the questions undergraduates ask, or should ask themselves, while working on their undergraduate degrees. For many, however, those questions are not asked until the day after graduation, which makes it harder to reach their career goals. To ensure that students get assistance in how to answer these questions, faculty in EEB have started offering a series of opportunities to help students find answers.

Since 2017, undergraduates in the department have had a range of professional development opportunities to enrich their experiences and preparation. We offer four workshops each year on professional development topics to assist in skill development. Topics include graduate school de-mystified, how to write a CV, careers in EEB, how to work in a lab, and medical careers – conversations with interns. These hands-on workshops give students knowledge, background, and support as they navigate these topics. Students can also attend graduate student panels, resource discussions, and Q&A sessions with EEB faculty. To date, more than 150 students have attended the lunchtime workshops.

We also developed a comprehensive professional development course (EEB 311) that is taught every spring to make sure our graduates are prepared for their futures. By the end of this semester-long course, students know what career paths and options are available to them in ecology and evolutionary biology and how to prepare themselves for the future. Guest speakers with different careers, discussion panels, resource guides, practice and critiques of CVs and cover letters, as well as readings, give students the opportunity to learn about and practice hands-on skills to assist them in realizing their goals.

Lastly, a graduate student-undergraduate mentoring program, created and led by graduate students, pairs undergraduates with a graduate student with similar interests to provide advice and support from a near-peer as undergraduates navigate decisions about graduate school, careers, and how to find opportunities. To date, more than 100 undergraduates have been paired with approximately 20 graduate students in a successful collaboration that helps graduate students learn the skills of a mentor and undergraduate students gain critical information and guidance from a student who is a few years ahead of them.

Each of these opportunities help our undergraduates learn the skills they need to make a plan of where they want to go after graduation. Instead of asking “What do I do now?” our graduates are making decisions about which graduate school they will attend or which job offer they want to accept.