The OPTIONS Program

OPTIONS = Opportunities for PhDs: Transitions, Industry Options, Networking, and Skills

The OPTIONS Program is an initiative to supports PhD students and post-doctoral fellows to explore diverse career options.

Take a deep dive into career management with an eleven-week, non-credit program facilitated by faculty and professional development experts. This program allows you to: 1) reflect on your strengths, desires, interests, and personal qualities to formulate a career exploration plan; 2) practice communicating your skills and experiences using job application strategies; and 3) learn about tools to explore career possibilities that align with you career goals.

The OPTIONS Program is open to PhD students (who have completed qualifying and/or comprehensive exams) and post-doctoral fellows who want to develop their personal/professional skills and explore career options. Involvement in the program requires participants actively engage in discussions and support their peer’s career preparation. Participants who complete the program will receive a certificate of completion and four GPS Credits (learn more about SGS's Graduate Professional Skills Program here).

Apply to join OPTIONS!

The next cohort of OPTIONS will be in Fall 2019 (check back in late August for more details).

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)

Complementary Events

In addition to the eleven-week program, there will be two to three complementary events per semester open to all PhD students and post-doctoral fellows. These events provide an introduction to the school-to-work transition and skills critical to the success of a professional.

Stand Out From the Crowd! How to Differentiate Your Personal BrandMon Jan 145:00 - 7:00 pmGB202
Mini Workshop: Search Inside YourselfFri Jan 189:00 - 4:00 pmMY570
Living Library: A different kind of networking experience!Mon Feb 256:00 - 8:00 pmMyhal 5th Floor Atrium
Designing a ResumeWed Apr 1712:00 - 1:00 pmGB221
Trip to MDA CorporationThurs May 29:00 -12:00 pmMDA Corporation
Graduate Engineering Career FairTues May 710:00 - 3:00 pmExam CentreLearn more
Managing ConflictTues July 912:00 - 1:30 pmGB202Opening soon!


Stand Out From the Crowd! How to Differentiate Your Personal Brand

Mon Jan 14 | 5:00 - 7:00 pm | GB202

Want to stand out among the others in this competitive world? Not sure what makes you unique and marketable? Need help with marketing and promoting yourself effectively? Then this workshop is for you! Learn how to create a strong and marketable personal brand to differentiate yourself as top talent and the ideal candidate to hire. Get first-hand practical strategies and tips from an experienced recruiter and top job search expert in an interactive workshop!

About the Facilitator: Diana YK Chan, My Marketability


Mini Workshop Series: Search Inside Yourself

Fri Jan 18 | 9:00 - 4:00 pm | MY570

The Search Inside Yourself Program is a one-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 $1000 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:

* Open to MEng, MASc, PhDs and post-doctoral fellows


The Living Library: A different kind of networking experience!

Mon Feb 25 | 6:00 – 8:00 pm | Myhal 5th floor atrium

Are you unsure about the career options that exist for PhDs? Join us at The Living Library: A different kind of networking experience! In this interactive library, you are the “reader” and PhD alumni working in a variety of industries (biotechnology, education, start-up etc…) are the “books”.  In small groups, you will have a 15 minute conversation with a PhD alumni about their career, the path they’ve taken, and choices they’ve made to get to their current job. You will then move onto the next “book”, giving you the unique opportunity to hear multiple perspectives.

This event is brought to you by The OPTIONS Program and ILead:Grad, a graduate student-run leadership development group.


Designing a Resume

Wed Apr 17 | 12:00 - 1:30 pm | MY330

Tune up your resume before the Graduate Engineering Career Fair! At this session, you will learn how to craft a two-page, employment-oriented resume that effectively communicates the relevance of your graduate experience.
Pizza will be served!

Facilitator: Sania Hameed, Career Educator, Career Exploration & Education


Trip to MDA Corporation

Thurs May 2 | 9:00 - 12:00 pm | MDA Corporation

Interested in MDA Corporation? Apply to attend a trip to MDA to learn more about the company, tour the space, and meet with engineering PhD graduates employed at MDA.


Contact Information

Teresa Didiano
Special Programs Coordinator, Troost ILead