The OPTIONS Program

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

The OPTIONS Program is an initiative by the Vice-Dean, Graduate Studies and the Troost Institute for Leadership Education in Engineering (Troost ILead) to support U of T Engineering 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 participants to: 1) reflect on their strengths, desires, interests, and personal qualities to formulate a career exploration plan; 2) practice communicating their skills and experiences using job application strategies; and 3) learn about tools for exploring career possibilities that align with their career goals. See the full schedule here.

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).

Applications for the winter 2019 cohort will open in December.

What past participants have said about the program

“An amazing opportunity to organize your thoughts on jobs, what is important, and the skills you need to carry it out.”

“Great opportunity to shape your future. Figure out what you want to do after academia and how to get there.”

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.

The Art of Introducing Yourself to Employers: Wine and Cheese Networking NightTues Sept 185:00 - 7:00 pmMyhal Centre
5th Floor Atrium
Success Stories from PhD Engineers and Scientists: Conversations about Careers and Lessons from the WorkplaceMon Oct 16:00 - 7:30 pmSF1101
Mini Workshop Series: Search Inside YourselfThurs Nov 1
Fri Nov 2
9:00 - 4:00 pmMY570
Trip to Sidewalk LabsTues Nov 1312:00 - 4:00 pm
(11:50 - 1:00 pm travel time)
Sidewalk LabsRegistration open


The Art of Introducing Yourself to Employers: Wine and Cheese

Tues Sept 18 | 5:00 – 7:00 pm | Myhal Centre (5th Floor Atrium)

How do you start a conversation with an employer? What level of technical detail do you share about your research? What professional qualities might be important to mention? Come learn and practice the fundamentals of talking to employers. You will leave this workshop ready to introduce yourself and leave a lasting impression at your next networking event!

At this workshop, you will also have the opportunity to learn about The OPTIONS Program and hear from past participants while enjoying wine and delicious food!

Facilitator: Troost Institute for Leadership Education in Engineering


Success Stories from PhD Engineers and Scientists: Conversations about Careers and Lessons from the Workplace

Mon Oct 1| 6:00 – 7:30 pm | SF1101

Where do engineers with PhDs find work? What skills do they need to succeed in the workplace? Come meet engineering PhD graduates who have found meaningful, rewarding careers outside of academia. They will share their stories of transitioning from PhD to the workplace as well as the opportunities they gained (or wish they gained) in graduate school that helped them land a job.


Tereza Dan | Senior Principal and Managing Leader, Stantec
Poorya Ferdowsi | Data Scientist, Bristol Gate Partners
Inmar Givoni | Senior Autonomy Engineering Manager, Uber
Emily Moore | Managing Director Innovation, Hatch
Anthony Soung Yee | Product Design, Interaptix

Learn more about the panelists here.

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


Mini Workshop Series: Search Inside Yourself

Thurs Nov 1 and Fri Nov 2 | 9:00 – 4:00 pm | MY570

The Search Inside Yourself Program 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:

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


Trip to Sidewalk Labs

Join us for a trip to Sidewalk Labs to meet PhDs bringing innovation in urban design and digital technology to Toronto’s Eastern Waterfront. During this trip you will hear a panel of PhDs share their career journeys from PhD to Sidewalk Labs, learn about the application and interview process from a Talent Specialist, and explore the Sidewalk Labs’ interactive space.

Register today! Space is limited.

Note: The OPTIONS Program will cover the cost of transportation (TTC tokens) for a round trip between U of T and Sidewalk Labs. We will meet at 11:50 am outside WB116 and travel together via the TTC.

Contact Information

Teresa Didiano
Special Programs Coordinator, Troost ILead