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.
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 nine week, non-credit program facilitated by faculty and professional development experts. The program provides:
- Nine, two-hour, online, live sessions that create a structured career exploration experience
- One, twenty-minute video on resumes and cover letters for viewing on your own time
- Two career management tools to develop an individualized, career plan
- A one-on-one, 30 min meeting with a career coach (optional)
- A one-on-one, 20 min resume and cover letter review (optional)
- A one-on-one, 30 min meeting with an engineering professor (optional)
- A mock interview and personalized feedback on your interview skills
- A mechanism to establish at least one alumni contact in a field of interest
- A Peer Success Team to support your career exploration and planning
See the full schedule here.
In addition to the programming, resources, and one-on-one meetings listed above, participants who complete the program (attend seven of nine sessions) receive:
- A digital certificate of completion approved by the Vice-Dean, Graduate Studies and the OPTIONS’ Faculty Convenor.
- Four credits for the Graduate Professional Skills (GPS) Program at the School of Graduate Studies. Learn more about GPS here.
- Join a community of 200 OPTIONS alumni from six cohorts that are working in industry and completing their degree, and gain access to an exclusive OPTIONS LinkedIn Group.
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 attend all sessions, actively engage in discussions, and support their peers' career preparation.
Weekly, two-hour, online, live sessions that take place over nine weeks during one semester.
How to Apply
- Fall 2020 Cohort for PhD students and post-doctoral fellows: Applications closed.
- Winter 2021 Cohort for MEng students: Applications open in December
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.
|Job Search and Networking Strategies||Mon Sept 21||12:00 - 1:30 pm||Online|
|2020 National Post-doc Appreciation Week: How to Make the Most of Your Post-doctoral Fellowship at U of T||Thurs Sept 24||6:00 - 7:30 pm||Online||Cancelled|
|Fear-less: Building Public Speaking Self-confidence||Thurs Oct 15||12:00 - 1:30 pm||Online||Registration open|
|Design Your Life||Thurs Oct 29||11:00 – 4:00 pm||Online|
|Search Inside Yourself||Thurs Nov 19|
Fri Nov 20
|9:30 – 12:00 pm||Online|
Job Search and Networking Strategies
Mon Sept 21 | 12:00 - 1:30 pm EST
The search for work is a dynamic, often complex process with multiple different components including networking. In this session, you will learn about approaches and resources to help you target your search, and stay motivated. You will also learn about how to connect with professionals in an online environment.
- Identify key elements of and resources for the job search plan
- Identify strategies for tracking your progress and staying motivated
- Understand the value and importance of networking in career planning and the job search
Facilitator: Husna Arif, Career Educator, Career Exploration & Education
How to Make the Most of Your Post-doctoral Fellowship at U of T
September 21 to 25, 2020 is National Post-doc Appreciation Week! In recognition of the significant contributions post-doctoral fellows are making to research and the engineering Faculty’s community, we are hosting a panel specifically for you! Join us for an in-depth conversation on how to make the most of your post-doctoral fellowship. Hear from post-doctoral alumni who are working in academia and industry about how to effectively lead your research projects (including remote research and collaborations), plan for your career after your fellowship, and approaches to balance work and family responsibilities. You will leave this session with strategies and tips to succeed in your post-doctoral fellowship, and avoid common mistakes and pitfalls.
Moderator: Jonathan Turner, Institutional Strategic Initiatives Officer, Division of the Vice-President, Research & Innovation
Special Guest: Lisa Haley, Senior Advisor & Manager, Program Completion and Postdoctoral Services, School of Graduate Studies
- Houman Savoji, Assistant Professor, University of Montreal (PDF 2017 – 2019)
- Nadine Ibrahim, Lecturer, University of Waterloo (PDF 2015 – 2018)
- Silvia Elizabeth Zarate Muñoz, Associate Scientist, Research & Development, Biolab Pharma (PDF 2016 – 2017)
- Suzie Dufour, Solutions Manager, National Optics Institute (PDF 2012 – 2015)
- Vicky Young, Manager Furniture & Equipment, Sinai Health System (PDF 2016 – 2018)
Learn more about the panelists here.
Fear-less: Building Public Speaking Self-Confidence
Thurs Oct 15 | 12:00 - 1:30 pm EST | Register
Come develop your public-speaking self-confidence and overcome performance fears! Join Dr. Amanda Tobe, PhD, an organizational psychologist in supervised practice, who specializes in helping professionals, leaders and students with public-speaking anxiety and more generally, confidence and workplace stress issues. You will learn how to cultivate a more positive mindset and work through some of the dreaded public-speaking anxiety symptoms that prevent us from performing at our best. You will also learn the science behind what is happening to us when we are nervous and how to refocus our attention.
About Dr. Amanda Tobe
Dr. Amanda Tobe, PhD is a Toronto-based organizational psychologist in supervised practice, who specializes in helping professionals, leaders and students with public-speaking anxiety and more generally, confidence and workplace stress issues. Amanda has spent several years researching job interview anxiety and her work can be found in Harvard Business Review, The Huffington Post, Men's Health Magazine as well as psychology and business journals. Amanda brings her corporate experience of more than 5 years as a consultant and manager of talent management, talent assessment, and career development for various organizations. She earned her MA and PhD in Industrial-Organizational Psychology from the University of Guelph.
Design Your Life
Thurs Oct 29 | 11:00 - 4:00 pm EST*
What do I want to do with my life after grad school? How do I find a career that is meaningful?
Design Your Life 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 what tangible tools you can use 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: http://lifedesignlab.stanford.edu
*The session will run from 11 - 1 pm and 2 - 4 pm with a 10 min break in the morning and afternoon.
Search Inside Yourself
Thurs Nov 19 and Fri Nov 20 | 9:30 - 12:00 pm EST
Search Inside Yourself is a 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!
Learn more about Search Inside Yourself: https://siyli.org
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, BME)
- "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)
- "The OPTIONS program gave me the tools to reflect on my career story from different marketable perspectives. The course helped me to define, schedule, and practice clear and concise actions to create job opportunities aligned with my core values. The introspection was guided by instructors with different fields of expertise. The diversity of their knowledge and experiences were an advantage that benefited me to observe more job possibilities and to have a better understanding of the path to follow during my transition from academia to industry." (Post-doctoral Fellow, ChemE)
Teresa Didiano, Graduate Professional Development Coordinator, Troost Institute for Leadership Education in Engineering