Conference Resources

This page provides a selected inventory of nationally available resources on career mentoring to help students, faculty, and career services staff.  This page will continue to be updated.

Evidence of the need for career/professional development for students

Stewart, D. (2013). Professional development for graduate students: Reflections on the demands, the resources, and the skills. CGS GradEdge (

This work presents an overview of the need of more professional programs and the questions that still surround the creation of these programs. Students are requesting more programs to help them develop widely transferable professional skills, such as project management, entrepreneurial skills, communication skills, and collaboration skills. Professional working groups such as ACS, NAS, and Graduate Education Modernization Working Group have all created reports stating the need for more professional development for graduate students. One issue with creating these programs is funding. Many colleges and universities are being asked to cut non-essential programs so one problem is that these schools are unsure of how to obtain the funding necessary to start or maintain such programs. However, some schools currently have successful programs that could be studied for information on how to fund these programs. More research is needed to determine what topics need to be covered and the best ways to cover these topics. Discussions with employers and deans to look for skills common to many fields will help determine what topics to cover. Working with universities that have currently established programs can give insight into how to run the programs and how to build on any programs currently in place.

Thiry, H., Laursen, S.L., Loshbaugh, H.G. (2015). “How do I get from here to there?” An examination of Ph.D. science students’ career preparation and decision making. International Journal of Doctoral Studies (

A study was conducted to examine the career decision-making process for students in science PhD programs. The study shows that Ph.D. students are relying on small or haphazardly designed developmental networks to learn about career options after graduation. The networks are small and lack the diversity needed to be an adequate representation of all possible career options. Students are unable to prepare for their future careers because they aren’t sure of the career they want to pursue. They can’t adequately develop skills that would help them excel in their choice of career. The article suggests institutions offer more opportunities to be exposed to ALL possible career options, beyond just industry and academe. Advisers should encourage students to attend these events and take advantage of these opportunities. They also suggest the students need to be more active in attending the events being offered to learn more about possible careers. Students should also expand their networks beyond their advisers to get a better sense of career options.

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (2018). Graduate STEM Education for the 21st Century

The STEM graduate education system has worked well in the past but the needs of students entering STEM careers are changing and the education system needs to change with them. The report discusses the ideal education system for the current job climate and some suggestions to help universities achieve this. The study discusses the ideal education for both master’s programs and Ph.D. programs.  Prospective students should have full and complete access to the cost of a graduate education and the success of the previous students in that program. Once they have entered the program students should have the ability to develop strong technical skills as well as develop transferable skills using project-based learning. The university should provide programs and opportunities for students to explore possible career opportunities and the students should be encouraged to attend these programs. The university should provide faculty with programs to help improve their mentorship skills and teach students how to effectively pick the right mentor for them. The programs should be inclusive and diverse and teach students how to work well with others and how to communicate effectively. To accomplish these ideals universities should recognize and reward strong mentors and restructure programs to highlight the importance of strong mentorship. More research should be conducted to understand the outcomes of the new programs being implemented and schools should keep track of the successes of past students. Universities should restructure programs to focus on team projects and project-based learning, increase diversity in their programs, and increase support for mental health services for the students.

Self-assessment/planning resources for students

The American Chemical Society has a variety of resources for graduate students ( and undergraduate students ( These pages include resources for career and graduate school planning (ChemIDP), scholarships, and fellowships.

An ACS membership is required to access many of the resources, although registration for ChemIDP is free. The resources here are related to careers in the chemistry field. The ChemIDP is a great tool for beginning the career search allowing students to focus on their interests and skills to find careers that align. There are prompts and worksheets to help students create a plan to reach their career goals. The career services section provides resources on a variety of careers, salary information, and professional development. The careers section is focused on industry, academia, government, and entrepreneurship. There is information on networking within the chemistry field and information on more field-dependent networking information in the careers section and on the main page. There are links to Grantsnet, a compilation of many grant and funding sources, as well as ACS- and EPA-specific grants, and to both general and field-specific fellowship and award opportunities. The section on mentoring includes information for both mentors and mentees. There are articles and videos related to making the most of mentor relationships, how to be a good mentee and how to improve your skills as a mentor. Some videos relate directly to increasing diversity and becoming more culturally aware. The last section on the page relates to safety, including links to resources on safe laboratory practices, a look at safety culture, and student-run lab safety teams and how to incorporate them. Included in the safety section are resources on reducing and preventing depression and suicide at the graduate level.

The American Physical Society also has a variety of resources for career planning and self-assessment (

This website is focused on physics and physicists, but you do not need to be an APS member to use this site. The link is for a professional development guide book that takes the reader from career exploration to application processes. The guidebook covers the vast career possibilities for physicists, including careers outside of academia and industry. There are tutorial videos on how to do a self-assessment for skills and values and using these insights to start the career planning process. Conducting informational interviews are the next part of the career guidebook. Informational interviews are a great way to learn about a career from someone currently working in the field. The site provides sample questions and a video tutorial on conducting the interview. Informational interviews are also useful to start building a network. Professional meetings, your advisor, and social networking tools can also be utilized to build a network and there are links to videos for more information on developing the best network for the individual’s path. There are links to APS job boards and career fairs with videos on how to use these types of resources most effectively. Video tutorials show how to create an effective resume and cover letter and discuss the difference between resumes and CVs. There is a lot of information on how to have a successful interview with tips on how to dress, how early to arrive, and other tips on how to look professional. Information is provided on negotiating an offer and salary after the interview. The guidebook ends by discussing how to keep going in the face of initial rejection.

MyIDP ( is a web-based career planning tool designed for STEM graduate students and postdocs.

The individual development plan or IDP is an online skills and values assessment that can be used to start a career search. It is free and no affiliations are required, the user just needs to create an account. This is similar to ChemIDP but it includes careers across many STEM fields, so it can be used by students from any science background. There is a list of skills and values and users rank their ability/importance of each one on a scale of 1-5. The user receives a list of 20 careers ranked by best fit with the percent matches to skills, interests, and values. The site offers the ability to create SMART goals and keep track of completion of the goals. There is also information on selecting mentors to help reach the goals set. There is a completion check-list that allows the user to monitor their progress and receive a certificate once the plan has been completed

More information about how to use and interpret IDPs can be found here (

The IDP can be a useful tool and these articles are intended to help students get the full benefit of it. The IDP is designed to be completed with these articles in mind. There are a few articles on the background of the IDP including the importance of the skills and interests used in the questionnaire and why the creators focused on skills, interests, and values. There are articles pertaining to interpretation of the results and how to use these results to start a plan. They discuss how important it is to do research on possible careers and use the links provided to make informed decisions. Other articles assist in making SMART goals and finding mentors to assist in the development and creation of an IDP.

The Versatile PhD ( is a website with tools for helping PhD students explore their options in non-academic careers.

This is a resource for graduate students in humanities, social sciences, and STEM focusing on non-academic career options. Some of the resources are not open to the general public and the student’s affiliated university needs to have a subscription with the service to gain access. There are forums for asking questions, lists of careers, a course to help successfully transition into a career, and job postings. The forums cover a large range of topics and are open to the public. There is a list of careers divided into STEM careers and humanities careers. In each career section there is general information about the career that is open to public. These sections contain information on getting started in the career, job outlook, general information about the requirements for the job, and how to prepare for that type of career. The real-world examples, Q and A’s, and the sample resumes relating to each career require a subscription to view.  They offer a six-module course to help students prepare for life after graduate school and a job posting section that require a subscription.

APS IMPact program - Industry Mentoring for Physicists:  

Must be an APS member to participate in this program. The program is designed to connect graduate students and postdocs to physicists with industry experience for short-term mentoring relationships. Over the course of 3-4 months the pairs should get together four times for 30-60 minutes. These meetings can be in person, video calls, or phone calls, whatever is more convenient for those involved. During these meetings the pairs should discuss career expectations, resume writing, career goals, interview tips, and networking as it pertains to the field of interest. After the time is up the pairs can choose to stay in contact and continue their relationships if both parties find it to be beneficial. Mentors and mentees can each have two active mentor relationships at a time, but the mentee can choose to have more mentors sequentially. The web site includes short guidelines for mentors and mentees to help start the discussions.


Resources about effective mentorship, including issues of equity and inclusion

The ACS has a useful set of tips for effective mentorship (

Short document with information on running a formal mentor meeting and the characteristics of good mentors and mentees. In a formal mentor meeting the mentor should asses the mentee, prioritize topics for the meeting, set expectations of the relationship, provide career guidance, and wrap-up by setting the time for the next meeting. According to ACS the qualities of a good mentor include being a good listener, being encouraging, flexible, able to measure progress, giving feedback, and being committed to the relationship. The qualities of a good mentee are being goal oriented, a good communicator, a good listener, one who can accept feedback, and is adaptable to feedback

The National Research Mentoring Network has resources on culturally aware mentorship ( These include a short video and instructions to access a one-hour training module.

The National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) is a part of the Diversity Program Consortium (DPC). The DPC is one of the programs created in 2014 by the NIH to address the lack of diversity in the biomedical research workforce. The NRMN is designed to provide mentorship, training, networking opportunities, and resources for mentors and mentees. They provide evidence-based mentorship training using a process-based approach. The trainings are designed to help mentors at all stages who work with mentees of all stages. They offer an 8-hour research mentor training by request. They also offer a four-month virtual mentorship program (MyMentor), a free online course to enhance mentorship skills, and certification programs for those who complete MyMentor. In addition, they offer NRMN Culturally Aware Mentorship (CAM). This program is designed to help mentors and trainees approach cultural diversity matters. The CAM program is designed for mentors that have previously completed the other NRMN trainings. To complete the program the mentor will take an online course followed by a day-long interactive workshop and finish with a CAM skills assessment. The in-person workshop can be requested on their website. The website offers resources and publications pertaining to their process-based approach.

The APS National Mentoring Community Resources:

A program designed to connect African American, Hispanic American, and Native American undergraduate physics students with mentors. This program is free for both parties. Both parties should be APS members, so the program offers a free one-year APS membership with APS for the student. Mentees will meet with their mentors monthly, qualify for funding to attend NMC sponsored events, and receive topic suggestions to help spark discussions with the mentors. Mentors will qualify for funding to travel to NMC conferences, can be recognized nationally for outstanding commitment to the program, will meet with their mentees regularly, and provide annual reports on the progress of their mentees. There is an entire resource library for mentors to use that includes webinars and PDF documents. These resources cover creating a strong mentor/mentee relationship, mental health, IDP resources, and information on mindsets.

Guidelines and examples of successful departmental/institutional mentoring programs

Denecke, D., Feaster, K., Stone, K. (2017). Professional development: Shaping effective programs for STEM graduate students. Washington, DC: Council of Graduate Schools (

This report – based on surveys, interviews, and a 2015 workshop – covers overall findings, barriers to effective career training, and features of specific programs that have been implemented. It also includes a table (starting on p. 88) with a summary of graduate-level professional development programs throughout the country, including links to the programs. This document is a useful starting point for finding further resources on departmental/institutional mentoring programs – the “Evidence” section above can draw heavily from the references in this report

Credit for Annotations:  Amy Blondin Hotchkiss, Northeastern University