Career Pathways: Where Employers and Educators Meet

Patrick S. Osmer — April 25, 2014

Pat Osmer

Over the past several years, I have spent a lot of time on career development and career pathways for graduate students.

Last week, I was invited to speak at  the U.S. News STEM Solutions national conference in Washington, DC. The theme was “Where Employers and Educators Meet,” and it was an energizing meeting that pulled in a diverse range of perspectives on strengthening STEM education in the U.S. that pulled in a diverse range of perspectives on strengthening STEM education in the U.S.

In the session on the rise of practical graduate education, I spoke about the efforts underway nationally and at Ohio State to prepare advanced degree holders to take on roles in the full range of employment sectors, not only faculty-researcher positions.

Here’s some of what we are doing at Ohio State:

We are encouraging faculty and graduate programs to develop more professionally oriented master’s programs, including professional science master’s programs. These are master’s programs with an explicit dual focus: specialized content knowledge and professional skills needed to succeed in work environments.

We are broadening what we mean by doctoral education at Ohio State to help make sure that our graduate programs address current opportunities and needs. There are many examples. Two that come immediately to mind address opportunities and challenges in doctoral level interdisciplinary research and training (Environmental Sciences Network and Life Sciences Network) and needs of employers for advanced training (General Electric and College of Engineering master’s program).

We are working on improving career services for graduate students at Ohio State, including support for exploring careers outside the academy. Current resource summary. We are also part of a national research project on financial literacy for students, both graduate and undergraduate. More

All of this effort is supported by the national research projects on graduate student career pathways that I have been involved in. More The main takeaway from these projects is that people with advanced degrees are essential to the national and global workforces because they have the creativity and skills necessary to identify and solve complex problems, and create new knowledge.

 These national projects show that employers want employers who have transferrable skills—communication, working in groups, and project management-- that make it possible for them to hit the ground  running. I know that many graduate students acquire these skills through their graduate degree training, but we need to do a better job of helping you achieve the level and breadth of experience needed by employers to see how the activities you have been involved in illustrate these areas. We also need to develop opportunities for graduate students  to acquire these skills if they don’t have opportunities in their program to do so.



Patrick S. Osmer is vice provost of graduate studies and dean of the Graduate School at Ohio State. He is also a recent past 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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