The OPTIONS Program

The OPTIONS Program is an initiative to support all engineering graduate students and post-doctoral fellows in exploring diverse career options. It consists of a: 1) Cohort Program and 2) Complementary Events.

Cohort Program

Applications for the fall 2019 cohort (for PhD students and post-doctoral fellows) are open. Apply here!

Purpose & Content

Take a deep dive into career management and join a supportive community of like-minded graduate students and post-doctoral fellows exploring career possibilities. The Cohort Program is a ten week, non-credit program facilitated by faculty and professional development experts. The program provides:

  1. Ten, two-hour sessions that create a structured career exploration experience
  2. Two career management tools to develop an individualized, career plan
  3. A one-on-one, 30 min meeting with a career coach (optional)
  4. A one-on-one, 30 min meeting with an engineering professor (optional)
  5. Personalized feedback on your resume, cover letter, and interview skills
  6. A mechanism to establish at least one alumni contact in a field of interest

See the full schedule here.

Participants who complete the program (attend eight of ten sessions) will receive a certificate of completion and four School of Graduate Studies' GPS credits (learn more about GPS here).

Great For

The cohort program is open to MEng students, PhD students (who have completed qualifying and/or comprehensive exams), and post-doctoral fellows who want to develop their professional skills and explore career options. Involvement in the program requires participants actively engage in discussions and support their peers' career preparation.

Time Commitment

Weekly, two-hour sessions that take place over ten weeks during one semester.

How to Apply

  • Fall 2019 Cohort (for PhD students and post-doctoral fellows): Applications open. Apply here!
  • Winter 2020 Cohort (for MEng students): Applications will open in early December 2019

Complementary Events

In addition to the Cohort Program, there are complementary events throughout the year open to all engineering graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. These events provide an introduction to the school-to-work transition, tools to develop skills critical to the success of a professional, and a venue to network with engineering graduate alumni.

Improv(ing) Your Communication Skills: Think on your feet to navigate the unexpected in job interviews and research presentationsWed Sept 185:00 - 7:00 pmGB202Registration open
Designing the Professional: Life After Graduate SchoolFri Oct 189:00 - 4:00 pmGB202Registration will open in late September.
World Café Networking Night: Tea, cookies, and career stories from MEng alumni Tues Oct 296:00 - 8:00 pmMY 5th Floor AtriumRegistration will open in mid-October.
Mini Series: Search Inside YourselfMon Nov 25
Tues Nov 26
9:00 - 4:00 pmGB202Registration will open in early November.

Improv(ing) Your Communication Skills: Think on your feet to navigate the unexpected in job interviews and research presentations

Wed Sept 18 | 5:00 – 7:00 pm | GB202

Do you struggle to communicate in the moment? Do you want to build confidence in your communication skills? Join us for an improv session with Bad Dog Theatre Company to learn how to think on your feet to manage unexpected questions and situations. This fun and interactive session will give you skills to use in job interviews, research presentations, and when introducing yourself.

You will also have an opportunity to learn about The OPTIONS Program, an initiative to support ALL engineering graduate students and post-doctoral fellows in exploring diverse career pathways.

Food will be served.


  • Andrew Bushell is a Toronto-based improvisor and actor. He can be seen in the monthly live comedy shows Partytown (Comedy Bar), Super Hot Date Night (Bad Dog Theatre) and The Disaster (various venues). He has previously been nominated for a Tim Sims Comedy Award. If you haven’t seen him on stage maybe you’ve seen him on TV! He’s most recently appeared on Designated Survivor, Dark Matter and the CBS series Salvation.
  • Coko Galore is a Toronto-based actor, comedian and curator. She is one half of the acclaimed improv comedy duo Coko and Daphney. Together, they have performed in many festival and shows including Just For Laugh’s alternative festival OFF-JFL/ZOOFEST and the Harbourfront Centre’s 2018 Brave Festival opener sets, which she also curated. Coko is currently Associate Artistic Director at The Bad Dog Theatre and will serve as a director for the festival ensemble at October's Vancouver Improv Festival.

Register here!


Designing the Professional: Life After Graduate School

Fri Oct 18 | 9:00 - 4:00 pm | GB202

What do I want to do with my life after grad school? How do I find a career that is meaningful?

Designing the Professional is a self-discovery and career exploration experience to address the “wicked problem” of cultivating a meaningful life and career at and beyond U of T. It was developed by two Stanford engineering professors and is now taught at the Stanford Life Design Lab. This program utilizes design thinking principles to help you uncover what possibilities in career and life interest you and develop tangible tools to explore those possibilities. You will develop awareness of what is important to you, define three career and life prototypes, and brainstorm ideas to take action on those prototypes.

Learn more about Stanford's Design Your Life:

Applications will open in late September!


Mini Workshop Series: Search Inside Yourself

Mon Nov 25 and Tues Nov 26 | 9:00 – 4:00 pm | GB202

Search Inside Yourself is a two-day mindfulness-based emotional intelligence program aimed at supporting you to manage stress, improve communication skills and cultivate greater well-being. It was originally developed at Google to support the leadership of their engineers, and is now offered world-wide in many settings. If you are curious about mindfulness, interested in deepening your emotional intelligence, and keen to be more effective in life and work, then this is a wonderful opportunity for you. This hands-on course will give you tools, frameworks and practices that will benefit you for years to come. Come and join a group of graduate students as we take a deep dive into emotional intelligence.

This program typically costs $2000 per person, however, you will be led through the experience for free! You will also be provided a delicious lunch.

Learn more about Search Inside Yourself:


What U of T Engineering graduate students have said about the program

  • "The OPTIONS Program provided me with a how-to guide on exploring next steps. I am more confident in reaching out to individuals in different positions to learn about their career paths. I left the program with a better understanding and ability to market my skills and strengths gained throughout my education." (PhD, IBBME)
  • "The OPTIONS Program helped me understand my skills from childhood to adulthood by realizing common patterns. It aided me to widen my career possibilities as opposed to the classic 'industry vs academia' approach after PhD." (PhD, ECE)
  • "I was in the middle of my career exploration when I joined The Options Program. For me the program highlighted the possibilities outside of the more "well traveled" career paths and I felt empowered to explore these. Through the program I was able to recognize all my skills and how these are of great value for my chosen direction in life." (Post-doctoral Fellow, UTIAS)

Questions? Contact:

Teresa Didiano
Special Programs Coordinator, Troost Institute for Leadership Education in Engineering