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

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)
  • Winter 2020 Cohort (for MEng students): Applications closed.

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.

Engineering to Banking: Career stories and lessons from alumni in the financial sectorWed Jan 226:30 - 8:00 pmWB116
Design Your LifeThurs Feb 139:00 - 4:30 pmGB202
The Living Library: A different kind of networking experience!Tues Feb 256:00 - 8:00 pmMY 5th Floor Atrium
Mini Workshop Series: Search Inside YourselfPOSTPONED - Thurs Mar 12 and Fri Mar 139:00 - 4:00 pmGB202



Engineering to banking: Career stories and lessons from alumni in the financial sector

Wed Jan 22 | 6:30 – 8:00 pm | WB116

What do engineering graduates do in the banking sector? What skills do they need to succeed in the workplace? Come meet engineering masters and PhD alumni who have found meaningful, rewarding careers at banks. They will share their stories of transitioning from engineering to the workplace as well as the opportunities they gained (or wish they gained) in graduate school that helped them land a job.


Design Your Life

Thurs Feb 13 | 9:00 - 4:30 pm | GB202

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:


The Living Library: A different kind of networking experience!

Tues 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.



Mini Workshop Series: Search Inside Yourself

Thurs Mar 12 and Fri Mar 13 | 9:00 – 4:00 pm | GB202 - POSTPONED

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:

* Open to all engineering graduate students and post-doctoral fellows

Some spots remain. Register here!


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, Graduate Professional Development Coordinator, Troost Institute for Leadership Education in Engineering