A week of career-focused programs for first-gen grad students!

Open to all graduate students, but with a specific focus on the experience of first gen graduate students, we encourage you all to take advantage of some of our upcoming workshops and programs as part of the First Gen Graduate Student Week in March (13-17th March). This collection of programs is supported by GAPSA, and is presented in collaboration with student support offices across campus. You can find more details of this week here: https://careerservices.upenn.edu/2023-first-gen-graduate-student-week/, and a summary of the programs listed below.

Although the term wasn’t commonly used when I was a PhD student at the University of Oxford studying the behaviour of chickens, I am a first-generation graduate student. Well, my brother is 3 years older and got his Master’s degree, but I went straight from my undergrad to my PhD. Why? Because my undergraduate advisor told me that this was a good idea – not because I had any real understanding of what a PhD was, and I definitely did not have any career next steps in mind post-PhD. In fact, my driving motivation for getting a PhD at that time was so that I could be called Dr., because I thought that sounded cool. And to be honest, I still think it sounds cool, and so this has certainly given me a life-long sense of joy in addition to some of the other career benefits that my PhD has supported. I was also a first gen international PhD when I applied for faculty positions in the US after moving over from the UK, and will admit to not knowing what a ‘3-3 teaching load’ meant when I was told about the responsibilities of the role as part of an on-campus interview. I didn’t let on that I didn’t really know what that meant, of course, but I did rush back home after the interview to look this up to see what I had enthusiastically agreed to.

This series of events is part celebration of being a first-generation graduate student, and part opportunity to lean into the energy, passion, and drive that first gen graduate students bring to their academic programs.

While focused primarily on the experiences and perspectives of first gen graduate students, this week of programs is open to all graduate students, and we encourage you to take advantage of those sessions that will help you gain more confidence in your professional and career development. Click on the links below to register:

Monday 13th March, 2023

Theme: Graduate Student Life

Tuesday 14th March, 2023

Theme: Professional Identity Day

Wednesday 15th March, 2023

Theme: Resources on Campus

  • Professional Head-shots: We will be hosting a limited number of slots to get a professional head-shot taken. The link to sign-up for this event will be shared on this page once details are finalized.
  • All week: Campus Resources and Landmarks Selfie Scavenger Hunt: Details will be announced about how to participate closer to the first gen week. Visit the event page to stay updated.

Thursday 16th March, 2023

Theme: Life Skills Day

Friday 17th March, 2023

Theme: Future paths

By Joseph Barber
Joseph Barber Director, Graduate Career Initiatives