What employers want universities and graduate students to know

Patrick S. Osmer — March 28, 2013

Pat Osmer

On Monday, March 25, I met with partners from higher education, Battelle, and industry and business to talk about how we can work together to strengthen pathways for students as they move from higher education into careers.

The meeting was extremely successful in bringing all these groups together, and I am pleased with it as an important starting point for building the kinds of relationships that will benefit both our graduate students and potential employers.

This meeting was focused on STEM fields and featured presentations by employers that already have  significant relationships with Ohio State—namely Honda, GE Aviation, Timken, Parker Hannifin, and Replex Plastics.

But the key points that I took away pertain to most fields and most employment sectors:

First, companies exist in a highly competitive, fast-paced environment, and that companies--both large and small—need to be global to survive.

Second, employers seek potential employees who have the advanced skills and training that come with graduate degrees. Moreover, they seek employees who also have significant professional skills including communication, leadership, data analytics, and team and project management. These are the distinguishing skills that will get you ahead in the workplace. I want to point out that these skills are also essential for success in academic and research careers.

Finally, all of these employers encouraged graduate students to reach out and contact them. Without exception, they said that they enjoy hearing from students and talking with them about their work and the companies they work for.

I want to encourage those of you who are interested in working outside the academy to take the first step and reach out. Talk with your graduate program and ask for help in identifying alumni who are now working outside of the academy. Reach out to these alumni and ask about their work and their career pathways. Encourage your programs to invite these alumni back to meet with groups of graduate students.

You can also reach out to any employer that is doing work that is of interest to you. Use your networks –and research skills--to identify someone in that organization to contact and set up a time to talk.

In the meantime, I want you to know that I am working on developing specific outcomes and action plans for the Graduate School to take following this meeting. I will be in touch as those plans develop, and I invite you to be in touch with me with any comments or suggestions. And, remember to take advantage of any career development resources available to you via your program, college, Career Connection, and Buckeye Careers.


Patrick S. Osmer is vice provost of graduate studies and dean of the Graduate School at Ohio State. He is also currently serving as chair of the board of directors for the Council of Graduate Schools. Osmer was chair of the Ohio State astronomy department from 1993-2006.


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