The Value of Your Graduate School Experiences

The Value of Your Graduate School Experiences

By Daniel Moseson, Ph.D., CPDC Career Coach

Graduate students bring many valuable skills to the job market – research, writing, critical thinking, public presentation, project management, creative problem-solving, and determination. To better present these skills to employers, you need to frame them in terms of specific experiences and accomplishments. They don’t just want a list of your skills. To invest in you, they need to know how you’ve already used them to make a difference.

Fortunately, you have – in your research, teaching, campus service and leadership, and your work and advocacy off campus. Your thesis or dissertation is a major accomplishment. Producing knowledge is hard. The final product stands as evidence that you can think critically, find and synthesize large amounts of data, manage a complex, long-term project, communicate the results to diverse audiences, and collaborate productively with a mentor to complete highly sophisticated work. Your research may also act as evidence of other advanced skills, from laboratory techniques and ethnographic interviewing to (*trigger warning*) facility with the IRB process.

Successful teaching is also an accomplishment that testifies to a range of valuable skills. Keep your best teaching evaluations ready to act as evidence of your successes as a public communicator, event planner, and mentor. Productive connections with students show you can improve others’ learning and performance, assess their work fairly, and provide constructive, empathetic feedback. If your teaching is grounded in equity and social justice, so much the better – it’s evidence that you are fluent in the topic and effective at putting theory into practice.

If you’ve been a leader in your graduate program or professional organization, this also counts as valuable experience. Did you help organize a successful conference? Explain how you argued for event funds, created and marketed a compelling program, and managed the logistics of a complex event, from catering, to technology, to travel (or whatever challenges you overcame in making a virtual conference work). Did you help create committee bylaws or a new constitution for your GSAC? Explain how you collaborated to share work, manage conflict, foreground values, and build consensus. These accomplishments can demonstrate not only organizational and event planning skills, but also the “soft” or “human” skills needed to be an effective collaborator and leader.

Finally, your experiences and accomplishments off campus count as well. A grad school classmate of mine worked as a part-time cashier at Rite Aid, no doubt gaining valuable experience in customer service. When I was in grad school, I volunteered as a regional NPR host planning and hosting two- or three-hour primetime music shows with varying themes. I developed an on-air persona that I still draw on for public presentations. I also built organizational skills as I worked preplanned playlists into a structure provided by the station and the Federal Communications Commission. It was great training in learning a new framework and seeing a project through, from creative impulse to final product, quickly and with minimal outside assistance.

Remember, don’t just list job duties- focus on the challenges you faced, the actions you took, and the differences they made.

Your Career Coach can help you express experiences and accomplishments like these in ways employers understand. You can schedule an appointment with a Graduate Career Coach here.

5 Tips to Make Your Resume and LinkedIn Stand Out

5 Tips to Make Your Resume and LinkedIn Stand Out

By Olga Kingsbury, CPDC Career Coach

Resume and LinkedIn are two of the most important tools in a job search process. With the Spring semester and the upcoming Career Fairs just around the corner, Olga Kingsbury, CPDC Career Coach, is sharing 5 easy tips to make your Resume and LinkedIn ready for a successful job hunt.


1. Clean up your Resume format. We recommend using simple layouts, consistent readable fonts and have enough white space to make your Resume more reader-friendly.

2. Reframe your job responsibilities into accomplishment statements. You can do that by following a simple structure: accomplished X by doing Y which resulted in Z.

3. Rethink your experience. The number one thing employers are interested in seeing on your Resume is experience. It comes in a variety of forms: internships, full-time and part-time work, community service, volunteering, class and side projects, student clubs and leadership. All of these experiences could be included in your Resume.

4. Focus on transferable skills. Don’t be discouraged if you have little or no “relevant” work experience. Any work is relevant as long as you highlight the skills you can “transfer” into a desirable position. For example, working in a customer-facing role, you probably developed excellent communication, interpersonal, and customer service skills. These qualities are highly valuable in almost any role, so be sure to demonstrate them on your Resume.

5. Tailor your Resume every time. The role of your Resume is not to get you a job but to get you an interview by showing an employer that you are a perfect fit for a particular position. As you are editing your Resume, have the job you are applying for in front of you, and make sure your Resume reflects the employer’s desirable skills and experiences.


1. Upload a nice professional photo and banner to your profile. You don’t need to hire a photographer to get a professional photo. A photo taken on a smartphone with a neutral background works. Pick a banner that aligns with your work, values, and beliefs.

2. Fill out your Headline and Summary – both sections are indexed and are searchable by Google and the built-in LinkedIn search engine. Include the keywords recruiters would be using when looking for candidates in your field.

3. Get a nice custom URL by going to your profile and then “View profile” at the right top of the page. Select “Edit public profile & URL” followed by “Edit your custom URL” at the top right corner. Now you can delete your current URL, a bulky combination of letters and numbers, and input your first and last name.

4. Fill out your Experience, Education, Skills, and Accomplishment sections to get the All-star profile. LinkedIn shows All-star profiles first to employers.

5. Start engaging with and beyond your network. You will increase your profile visibility by liking, commenting, and connecting with others.



Resume Resources for students:  

Resume Resources for all: 

LinkedIn Resources:  

Handshake: The Best Job Search Engine I Never Knew About 

Handshake: The Best Job Search Engine I Never Knew About 

By Shay Enstrom, CPDC Social Media Intern 

Job and internship searching can be tough. There are so many different platforms, but not all jobs and internships are posted across them equally. Organizations’ websites can be hard to navigate when looking for their “careers” sections. Some jobs aren’t offered in your location, but you spend 30 minutes searching before figuring that out. The whole process can be disheartening, and demotivating to anyone who is newly searching for an opportunity.

That is where Handshake comes in.

Handshake is a free job and internship search platform exclusively designed for college and university students and recent grads. I had never heard of it until I started my internship at the CPDC. When it was put on my radar, it sounded like any other job searching platform. I thought, “Great, another place for me to drown amongst all the other people searching for jobs”. But, as I learned more and more about what Handshake really had to offer, I realized how specialized it is for college students.

Here are a few things I love about using Handshake:

  • In Handshake, you can create a profile, search for employers, and apply for jobs and internships.
  • Nearly 100 new jobs and internships are added to Handshake every day, so there’s always something new for you to discover!
  • Instead of competing with people who have 10+ years of experience, these jobs and internships are catered to college students’ experience levels and previous backgrounds.
  • You can fill out your profile and a short career interests survey to customize your account and see opportunities that align with your interests featured right on your homepage.
  • Employers post specific jobs and internships to Handshake that aren’t always posted on other platforms, so us students get first pick.
  • The jobs and internships you see in Handshake are opportunities that employers are actively recruiting UofU students and recent grads for, so you’ll have an automatic leg up when you apply.
  • Handshake allows employers to host career and internship events, as well as info sessions about possible opportunities that are, once again, only for the students and recent grads that have Handshake accounts.
  • Handshake has a ton of free resources embedded in it that you can use to search for jobs, practice interviewing, explore careers, and more!

The best part: As a UofU student, you already have a free Handshake account, you just have to login to activate it. You can use your free account the whole time you’re a student and for up to two years after you graduate!

Before I discovered Handshake, I had definitely been feeling discouraged when surfing through online job platforms. Feeling out-numbered by other applicants who had more experience and competing with those who held more credentials than me was really making me feel as though I wouldn’t find a job. But Handshake has allowed me to breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that I really do have a chance, and I really will be seen by employers.

A Letter to Our Students

A Letter to Our Students 

By Crystal Cory, CPDC Undergraduate Career Coach  

Dear University of Utah students, 

We don’t have to tell you that 2020 has been a rough year.  

There has been a global pandemic. There has been social unrest. There has been the most stressful, intense election in recent memory. Changes have been made to address all of these challenges as society has tried to continue to move forward while keeping people safe and protected. And also, murder hornets and strange monoliths, because why not?  

But you all know that because you’ve been here right along with us facing brand new types of adversity in your already complicated lives.  

It is easy to look at the list of things that have happened in this completely bonkers year and assume that the strategy for 2020 wasn’t to thrive but just to survive; to just do what you have to do to get by and bide your time until things go back to “normal”, whatever that looks like and whenever that might happen.  

But that’s not what the amazing students at this university did. 

You adapted to new internship formats. You started networking with professionals, despite the fact that they might not have open positions right now. You found new ways to grow and develop both personally and professionally.  

But that’s not all. You also learned how to ask for help. You assessed what was working for you and what wasn’t and made changes to better your situation. You searched for, found, and built new communities since traditional methods were no longer an option. You adapted to ever-changing situations with grace. 

Despite everything that 2020 has thrown at you, and it has been a lot, you did not stop. You continued to move forward in spite of all of the adversity 

This year has been hard. So during this (thankfully) long winter break, we encourage you to take time to do some true self-care. It has been a long, hard road to get to this point, and the spring semester will likely be the same.  

The entire university, including our office, will be here to support you when you come back refreshed and recharged in January. Until then, please do whatever you need to do to take a break from everything that you can.  

You truly deserve it.  

Always our best, 

The Staff of CPDC 

Reflecting on My Unexpected Career Path 

Reflecting on My Unexpected Career Path 

By Allison Musser, CPDC Associate Director, Career Coaching & Strategic Partnerships 

Have you ever paused for just a moment to reflect on the path you’re on and how you got there? How every decision, big or small, led you right to where you are today? The other day I fell deep into one of those reflections. 

I was a student-athlete my first year of college. To make a long story short, by the end of my first year I was no longer having fun playing softball, a sport I’d loved since age 7. I felt like the path I’d chosen wasn’t leading me where I wanted to be, so I decided to quit. Even though I knew deep down I was making the right decision for me, it didn’t take away the immense shame I felt from giving up my athletic scholarship, and disappointing my family.  

Despite all of that, I came to the realization that this ONE decision led me to where I am today. How, you ask? 

  • Well, I couldn’t afford to stay at my college without my athletic scholarship, and had to transfer. Transferring credits between schools is tricky, but I enjoyed figuring it out. I got so good at reading transfer agreements that I started to help my friends who were also transferring. 
  • By helping my friends, I realized I wanted to be an Academic Advisor, and one of my friends told me about New Student Orientation where I could get paid to help students register for classes. I applied and got the job. 
  • My Orientation Supervisor knew I wanted to be an Academic Advisor. They exposed me to College Student Affairs master’s programs, and encouraged me to apply. I had no intention of going to graduate school, but with the right information and encouragement, I applied and was accepted, which began my career in Student Affairs. 

So, why am I sharing this? Because life is full of decisions, and I want to share what I’ve learned to help you navigate any decision-making process you might be facing in your own career journey. 

  • There are rarely right or wrong decisions on your career journey. There are simply different paths. Some paths lead to the same destination, but take different routes and time to get there. Other paths lead to destinations you never even could have imagined. Could I have discovered my love of academic advising another way? Possibly, but maybe not.  
  • Trust yourself. You know yourself best. A lot of people will try to convince you otherwise and tell you what you should be doing. Will you disappoint those people? Undoubtedly. You can’t make everyone happy, but you can ensure that at least one person is happy: YOU! Trust me – you’re worth it. 
  • You can hold two opposite feelings at the same time. As I was reflecting, I found myself mourning my decision to quit softball. At the same time, I felt joy and gratitude for my decision because it made me who I am today. It is normal and healthy to mourn the path you could have taken. Acknowledge that path, but don’t let it take away from the path you’re on now. 

No matter what career decisions you’re facing, you don’t have to face them alone. The Undergraduate and Graduate Career Coaches in the Career & Professional Development Center are here to support you every step of the way. 


Turby Talks: Letting Go of the ‘Right’ Path

Turby Talks: Letting Go of the ‘Right’ Path 

By Kayla Turbyfill, Career Ambassador & Intern, Career & Professional Development Center  

“Which path is right for me?” is a question I have struggled with most of my life – and while I still do, I have figured out how to come to peace with it.  I know there is no “right” or “wrong” answer, path, career, or anything else for me really. That peace is not always quiet, though. In fact, sometimes it feels like I am screaming to remind myself that everything will work out, there is no “right” path, and that I am creating a life full of opportunity. I feel restless and full of anxiety about the future at times, but there are days when I can sit with myself and be content knowing I have thought out my decisions and have found a good fit for myself. That fit may change, and I may find another path, but, for now, I am doing alright. I have had to learn to trust myself, and I learn a new way to trust myself every day.  

I started to trust that there was no right path for me when I began to put aside my ego and anxiety and listened to those around me, who first told me there is no right or wrong answer. “Just choose,” they would say, which was not super helpful at the time, but it was my first step toward trusting my decisions. I realized there was more to the advice there than, “Just choose”. It turned into, “Trust yourself. You know what feels good, what fits, and experimentation [and failure] is okay”. It’s all part of growing and finding yourself. Learning what you don’t want is just as valuable as learning what works or fits you at any stage in your life. It is an ongoing process. What fits today may not fit tomorrow, but that is another opportunity to trust yourself and find a way through the problem. You have the power. You have the knowledge and the self-assurance to do it. Trust me because it was one of the hardest lessons I have had to learn over and over again.  

So this is the advice I want to pass along to anyone who needs to hear it: you really do have the tools and answers within. It may be scary, and you may have to back track or experience your definition of “failure”, but remember every “failure” is a learning experience. It is all part of a journey in self-discovery and it will help you figure out who you are over time. However you show up and whoever you become, you are worthy; you are enough; you deserve to find a fit that works for you and to thrive. You can find that peace and trust in yourself and move through life powerfully. You’ve got this.  

CPDC: Giving Back to U 

CPDC: Giving Back to U 

By CPDC Staff; Compiled by Megan Randall, CPDC Undergraduate Career Coach 

This week, in honor of Giving Tuesday – the global generosity movement – members of our CPDC team have been reflecting on the generosity we’ve each experienced throughout our careers. To contribute to the movement, we’d like to take a moment to express our gratitude, and pay it forward by sharing our best career advice with you as you continue on your own career journeys.   


CPDC Staff’s Expressions of Gratitude: 

  • I’m thankful to have learned that just because you aren’t officially in a leadership position, doesn’t mean you can’t lead! You can lead by example and move the organization forward no matter your job title. – Crystal Cory, CPDC Undergraduate Career Coach 
  • I am sincerely grateful for my job at the University of Utah CPDC. Even though I don’t see my co-workers in person and it can be isolating working on a computer daily in my basement, I still feel supported and like I am part of a fun, hard-working, productive, and compassionate team. – Leslie Bolton, CPDC Employer Engagement Specialist  
  • I’m thankful for my first Hall Director who also gave me my first ever job at a university as a Resident Assistant. I was still shy and insecure about my abilities and she saw a leadership potential in me, and encouraged me to apply. I count her as one of my very first mentors, and am so grateful she gave me a chance to build my confidence and find a passion for working in education. – Mary Arola, CPDC Undergraduate Career Coach 
  • I’m grateful to a friend who told me, “Don’t just take care of yourself, be kind to yourself” years ago. I’ve applied this idea to all aspects of my life since then. When things get tough, her words remind me to pause, check in with myself, reflect on what’s happening, and take time to think through how different decisions would affect mine and others’ holistic well-being before making any next moves. – Megan Randall, CPDC Undergraduate Career Coach 
  • I am grateful to a coworker who pushed me to speak up when I was in a previous role, where I felt like my voice didn’t matter and that I wouldn’t be able to provide anything  of value at all. It paid off in the end! Advocate for yourself. – Shay Enstrom, CPDC Social Media Intern 


CPDC Staff’s Best Career Advice:  

  • Set your boundaries early. It is way easier to set boundaries upfront than to walk behavior back later. – Crystal Cory  
  • Advice I recently learned from a mental fitness webinar was to see the good – Look for and remember the things that are going well in your life. – Leslie Bolton 
  • Don’t get too caught up on making the “perfect” choice, make sure the choice fits with your values, needs, and interests and then go with your gut! No choice made in that way will be a waste, you will always learn something valuable. – Mary Arola  
  • Don’t be afraid to create a job or internship opportunity for yourself if you don’t see anything posted that excites you and/or if what you’re interested in doesn’t exist. When you take initiative to tell others about your interests, ask for their help, pitch your ideas, and explore what’s possible, you can create exciting new opportunities! – Megan Randall 
  • Don’t pass up opportunities EVER and learn from EVERYONE that you can. Just because someone’s role isn’t directly associated with you does not mean they don’t have insights that could help you down the road. – Shay Enstrom  

3 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I Started College

It’s Okay Not to Have all the Answers: 3 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I Started College

By Rachel Smith, CPDC Career Ambassador Student Director & BFA Graphic Design Major


As an 18-year-old in 2012, I had no clue what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I enrolled in college alongside my peers, simply because it was the thing to do. I explored 4 different majors within my first 2 years of school, but nothing stuck. Everyone was telling me to just pick something. I felt lost and overwhelmed. With so many choices and so many things I was interested in, it felt like too much to pick only one major. It wasn’t until I chose myself over schoolwork that I realized I didn’t have to know what I wanted yet. Below are the three key things I learned throughout my journey:


1. “It’s okay to take a break.”

No one said I could stop school. It felt like the wrong thing to do. I compared myself to my peers, worried that taking a break would set me back too far. I worried so much about what others would think about me leaving that I didn’t think about what I wanted. I wanted to stop stressing about my future, I wanted to work, and I wanted to take my time discovering who I was. After a year and a half of internal conflict, I finally took a chance and talked to my advisor. The next semester, I decided not to return. Taking that time to focus on myself was the best decision I ever made. I spent some time working a full-time job that led me to meet people that helped me figure out what I wanted long-term.


2. “School will always be there. You can go back.”

In 2016, I decided I was ready to go back to school and get a degree. After a lot of soul searching and not being sure I had made the right decision, I enrolled in the Graphic Design program here at the U. I was nervous about being a non-traditional student, scared everyone would be younger than me and harder to connect with for that reason. I was surprised at how many older, non-traditional students there were in the program. Realizing I wasn’t the only one who took their time to find a career path made a huge difference. Finding my community of peers that all took an nontraditional path was incredibly validating and proved to me that it doesn’t matter how long it takes you to find what you want to do.


3. “Finding your passion takes time, and it’s worth it.”

The biggest thing I’ve learned in my time at 2 different schools is that finding your passion takes a lot of time. The only way to find it is to try new things, have new experiences, and move to new places. If I had struggled through a 4-year degree in something I wasn’t excited about, I never would have ended up where I am now. You don’t have to rush finding your passion, and you don’t have to settle for something about which you aren’t sure. The journey looks different for everyone, and that’s okay.


For those of you who need to hear it like I did, “It’s okay to take a break.” It might feel like the end of the world for a moment, but it could be the best thing for you. You can always go back to school when you are ready, or you might find a passion for something else, and that’s okay too. Take the time you need to discover yourself, your passions, and your path in life. You’re worth the time it takes, and so is your future.


How Being a Veteran Has Impacted My Education

How Being a Veteran Has Impacted My Education

By Kyle Wynn, President of Student Veterans at Utah (SVU) & United States Marine Corps Veteran

College has been a different, and at times challenging, experience for me compared to other students. I started my college experience after nearly 6 years in the United States Marine Corps. I enlisted shortly after high school and had minimal college experience prior to enrolling at the U. This, in combination with transitioning to civilian life, had the potential to make my first semester extremely difficult. However, serving in the military was overall beneficial because I was able to foster some key skills needed for success in higher education, though there were some disadvantages as well. In the military, I learned discipline, leadership, and adaptability.

The first skill that made my college experience exponentially easier was the discipline that my time in the Marines instilled in me. Having no study habits and having nearly no formal education since high school, discipline taught me to sit down and study until I understood the topic. This was a huge advantage for achieving an A in each class. Having this discipline was also instrumental in setting good study habits and a schedule that has continued to help me even during this pandemic.

The second skill that was an incredible asset to me is my leadership skills. I was able to really refine them during my time in the Marines as the second in command at a Marine Security Guard detachment assigned to protecting the US Embassy in Oslo, Norway. Refining my leadership traits has helped me and my groups excel in group projects, and go on to gain perfect scores. One of the aspects of leadership is recognizing your own faults and working to rectify them to the best of your ability. Being able to do this has helped me be able to go to my professors and work through things that I have been difficult. No amount of discipline can help when there is a fundamental lack of knowledge to be able to proceed forward in your course of study.

The final skill that assisted me in being able to both transition to civilian life, but also student life, was my ability to adapt to changing situations quickly. Being able to adapt was another key element of my Marine Corps career, especially when being posted as embassy security. I was officially out of the Marines the Friday before the Fall 2018 semester began, giving me a total of one weekend to shift gears into being a student. This adaptability has been the key to my success in shifting to student life and excelling in my course work.

Finally, despite all the advantages, finding a social group that understands my experience has been a challenge. Fortunately, I found spaces at the U where other veterans can come together and support one another. If you are a vet that needs support, please do not hesitate to reach out to the Student Veterans at Utah (SVU), the Veterans Support Center (VSC), or the Veteran Career Coach, Crystal Cory.

Turby Talks: Give Yourself Some Grace

Turby Talks: Give Yourself Some Grace

By Kayla Turbyfill, Career Ambassador & Intern, Career & Professional Development Center

In the age of COVID and all this year has wrought, it has been hard to remember that it is okay that “productivity” looks different right now. Everything looks different right now, from going to the store, to school, work, internships, and to relationships. So much is unknown and foreign day-to-day that it can be crippling. However, heavy choices still need to be made, such as choices about where to spend our time and energy, what work and school loads we take on, and what is sustainable and healthy for us right now. These are hard decisions, and I have found they come with a lot of frustration and grief for the things I used to do, negative self-talk, and loss of sleep and motivation. All of these factors can inhibit productivity even further, so it becomes a vicious cycle of choice, loss, frustration, and blows to your life, spirit, and mind. One of the most frustrating realizations about the pandemic for me is that nothing stopped. Not a day seemed to slow due to the global and national turmoil we have experienced, and yet, I need to slow my own pace –and that is okay. We all deserve time to heal and grow, and even yell.

Through this cycle, it becomes hard to show up as our entire selves, like we may have used to. We are challenged to show up differently, whether that be with more vulnerability –on levels we may not have been comfortable with before –or caged, even surrounded with people you used to be open with before. For me, it has been an odd mixture of both. I have been forced to come to terms with my own trials this year and how to tell people that yeah, I am struggling right now, and I need extra support. It took so long to recognize that I don’t have to go through all of this alone. On the other hand, I have exercised the freedom to let some people go through these experiences and learned that I don’t have to open up to everyone. In fact, I don’t even have to be vulnerable with some of the people I used to turn to. I have found new ways to cope and others to rely on. Through it all, though, I have had a single goal in mind: to be gracious with myself as I learn and grow.

Giving yourself some grace can look like a lot of different things. It can look like taking a nap instead of doing an assignment. Talking to a stranger about what you are going through because they are easier to confide in. Letting your boss or professors know you need an extension or less work to continue to put forth your best while you sift through everything else. It could look like wrapping yourself in a blanket and watching the day pass as you sit quietly with yourself. All of these things could help you be gracious and kind to yourself and find paths that allow you to move through these trials. Taking the time to let yourself feel, embrace, grieve, process, and heal. Allowing yourself to just be. Because you are worth it.

Please know that you are not alone. For additional support navigating these challenging times, please reach out to the University Counseling Center for support: