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Cornell University


Monday, October 24, 2016
BEST Program contributes to Quality of Grad Student Life

The GPCI (Graduate and Professional Community Initiative) was created in 2013 by the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly. The GPCI is a framework for strategic discussions to identify and address issues related to graduate and professional student life. The below report (October 2016) is organized by topic areas identified in the 2013 initiative. The report covers:

Advancements in the Quality of Graduate Student Life in Recent Years

Student Center
Sense of Community
Family Services
Career Resources
Mental Health and Wellbeing
Diversity and International Students

and provides a summary of progress on GPCI-related issues. 

Specifically, the BEST Program has participated in the Career Resources effort in answer to the following need as described by the GPCI: “Acknowledging the substantial progress that has been made on career resources on campus in recent years, the GPCI asks that additional support be given for graduate students who are looking to pursue non-academic careers. The GPCI also recommends that offerings by Cornell Career Services be more accessible to and valuable for the graduate and professional student community and that transferable professional skills resources that span all fields be strengthened. Lastly, the GPCI suggests that better data collection on alumni and current students can greatly improve the offerings of career resources.”

Career Resources

Since 2010, the Graduate School has improved delivery of career information through partnerships with Career Services that include a dedicated career advisor, through two grant-funded centers to address future faculty (CU-CIRTL) and non-academic (BEST) careers, and via a menu of professional development programs, events, and workshops. In 2015-16, the Graduate School interacted with nearly 8,500 student participants in 185 programs providing over 570 hours of programming. 

  • Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning: In 2012, CU-CIRTL (the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning) was established as a member of a national network of research universities (now including over 40 institutions).  CU-CIRTL creates opportunities for cross-field interaction around preparation for effective and inclusive teaching, research mentoring, and academic careers.  It offers cross-campus opportunities for interaction with faculty and students from other CIRTL Network institutions through regional symposia, online courses, webinar series, exchange visits, and summer training institutes.  

BEST Program: Through the National Institutes of Health, the BEST ("Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training") Program is available to graduate students and postdocs.  This is a university-wide initiative that offers workshops, off-campus alternatives to the traditional rotations in years 1-2, and mentorship or externship opportunities for careers beyond the academy. 

  • Alumni Networking Events:  Alumni networking opportunities for graduate students have increased through collaborative opportunities.  These include: a President’s Council of Cornell Women (PCCW) networking luncheon for graduate women from any field; three alumni career talks; a networking event at Reunion; and graduate student participation in Cornell's alumni job-shadowing Extern program.  Alumni Engagement opportunities have been expanded through a Provost funding mini-grant program to support graduate fields in the humanities and social sciences to engage alumni in professional development events focused on non-academic career pathways for PhDs. 
  • Career Outcomes: In partnership with the Survey Research Institute and Institutional Research and Planning, the Graduate School continues to implement and fine-tune processes for delivery and analysis of four student survey instruments to obtain information on students’ experiences. Included in these surveys is a Career Outcome project to develop an approach for tracking alumni or former student career outcomes.
  • Navigating Your Future: Launched in 2015, the Navigating Your Future program is a seminar series that highlights a variety of academic and career development topics relevant to the growth and success of graduate students.