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.

Applications for the MEng Cohort Program are open. Apply here!

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 nine week, non-credit program facilitated by faculty and professional development experts. The program provides:

  1. Nine, two-hour, online, live sessions that create a structured career exploration experience
  2. A short instructional video on resumes and cover letters for viewing on your own time
  3. Two career management tools to develop an individualized, career plan
  4. A one-on-one, 30 min meeting with a career coach (optional)
  5. A one-on-one, 20 min resume and cover letter review with an instructor (optional)
  6. A one-on-one, 30 min meeting with an engineering professor (optional)
  7. A mock interview, personalized feedback on your interview skills, and access to an interview preparation toolkit
  8. A mock informational interview, a mechanism to establish at least one alumni contact in a field of interest, and a database of informational interview questions
  9. A Peer Success Team to support your career exploration

Review the full schedule here.

 

Benefits

In addition to the programming, resources, and one-on-one meetings listed above, participants who complete the program (attend seven of nine sessions) receive:

  1. A digital certificate of completion approved by the Vice-Dean, Graduate Studies and the OPTIONS’ Faculty Convenor.
  2. Four credits for the Graduate Professional Skills (GPS) Program at the School of Graduate Studies. Learn more about GPS here.
  3. 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.

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 attend all sessions, actively engage in discussions, and support their peers' career preparation.

Time Commitment

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!

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.

EventDayTime (EST)LocationRegistration
Conversations Matters! A Career and Life Clarification ExperienceTues Jan 265:00 - 6:30 pmOnlineRegistration open!
Career Buzz Podcast - Navigating a Job Search in Uncertain Times: Practical Tips and Inspiring Stories from Engineering Masters and PhD AlumniTues Feb 212:00 - 1:30 pmOnlineRegistration open!
Design Your LifeFri Feb 2611:00 - 4:00 pmOnline
Search Inside YourselfMarch
Online
What Can I Do With A PhD in Engineering?Tues Mar 236:00 - 8:00 pmOnline

 

Conversation Matters! A Career and Life Clarification Experience

Tuesday January 26 | 5:00 – 6:30 pm EST | Register here!

Seeing faces, having shared experiences, and connecting in meaningful conversations matters!

This highly interactive group discovery experience sparks meaningful conversation and helps you connect the dots in your school and personal lives. By participating in a structured, supportive, and fun virtual experience with other like-minded graduate students and post-docs, you will identify your unique strengths and desires, learn from others, recognize who and what influences you, and gain valuable feedback to make well-informed career and life choices during uncertain times.

Your takeaways include:

  • Clarity into your unique strengths, influences, and what’s most important to you
  • Your own Career Statement, in positive, professional vocabulary to strengthen your voice
  • Clear steps to answer your important ‘what next?’ questions
  • A fun, meaningful conversation with positive, like-minded individuals

 

Navigating a Job Search in Uncertain Times: Practical Tips and Inspiring Stories from Engineering Masters and PhD Alumni

Tuesday February 2| 12:00 - 1:00 pm EST | Register here!

Join us for a live studio taping of the Career Buzz Podcast! Career Buzz is Canada’s unique podcast that empowers lives, enriches careers, and energizes organizations. Four U of T engineering alumni will sit down for an in-depth conversation with host Mark Franklin, engineer turned career coach, to discuss essential tips for conducting a job search during uncertain times. You will learn how alumni prepared to transition from graduate school to the workplace, and the specific strategies alumni employed to land a job.

 

About Career Buzz Podcast

Since 2006, Career Buzz has broadcast unrehearsed conversations featuring extraordinary career stories of ordinary people, and insights from thought leaders including Dragon’s Den star Arlene Dickinson, Canada’s career guru Barbara Moses, and career specialists Norm Amundson, John Krumboltz and many more. The podcast is hosted by Mark Franklin, Practice Leader at CareerCycles.com and instructor for TEP1030: Engineering Careers - Theories and Strategies to Manage your Career for the Future.

Learn more about Career Buzz Podcast here.

 

Panelists

  • Alyssa Hermann, Consultant, R.F. Binnie and Associates (MEng, CivMin)
  • Darius Raisi, Consultant, Deloitte (MEng, MSE)
  • Naz Orang, Manager, Data Analytics - Lumino Health, Sun Life Financial (PhD, ChemE)
  • More coming soon!

Moderator: Mark Franklin, Practice Leader, Career Cycles.com & Instructor, Engineering Careers (TEP1030)

 

Design Your Life

Feb 26 | 11:00 - 4:00 pm EST (This is NOT a full day session.)

What do I want to do with my life after graduate school? How do I navigate an uncertain job market affected by a global pandemic?

The world is rapidly changing, and the economy is evolving to address society’s challenges. The Design Your Life experience will equip you with the tools and self-knowledge to find direction in this uncertainty. Design Your Life uses design thinking 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. In this session, you will develop awareness of what is important to you, define three career and life prototypes, and brainstorm ideas to act on those prototypes.

Learn more about Stanford’s Design Your Life: http://lifedesignlab.stanford.edu

 

Search Inside Yourself

March 2021

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

Quotes from Past Participants

  • Search Inside Yourself was the most worthwhile experience I've had at U of T. I learned practical skills to deal with anxiety and stress, and mechanisms to build resiliency. It employed a scientific approach to wellness and demonstrated the tangible benefits of mindfulness. The skills I built in this program will serve me for years to come. (PhD/MD, BME)
  • Search Inside Yourself made me more aware of my body and mind, and the power I have to choose my response to stressful situations. I learned skills and techniques based on mindfulness and emotional intelligence that are beneficial in managing emotions and actions. These skills have positively influenced my social interactions with friends, family, and co-workers. (Post-doc, ChemE)

 

What Can You Do With A PhD In Engineering?

March 23 | 6:00 - 8:00 pm EST

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

What can you do with a PhD in engineering? Come discover potential career pathways and meet an amazing line-up of alumni guests from a variety of sectors! In small groups, you will have a conversation with an alumni about their career: what they did at school to prepare for a job, how they made the transition from school to the workplace, and what they do in their current job. Over the course of the event, you will meet and speak to multiple alumni! Between these conversations, there will be short plenary discussions where alumni will share essential strategies and tips on planning for your future career.

 

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)

Questions? Contact:

Teresa Didiano
Graduate Professional Development Coordinator, Troost Institute for Leadership Education in Engineering
t.didiano@utoronto.ca

 

 

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