Mirroring a reality at universities across the U.S. and around the world, only a small percentage of doctoral candidates and postdoctoral scholars conclude their studies at UC Davis and pursue a tenure-track faculty career at a university. A new program, Leaders for the Future, helps prepare students for success outside of academia.
A 2012 National Science Foundation study found that fewer than 17 percent of new STEM Ph.D.s are in tenure-track faculty positions within three years of graduation. Similarly, a study of occupations conducted by the Modern Language Association in 2013 found that less than 60 percent of humanities and social sciences Ph.D.s secure tenure-track positions. Clearly, the road once less traveled is now the norm.
UC Davis is home to more than 7,000 graduate students in nearly 100 programs, with almost three-quarters of these students pursuing their doctorate. Fully 80 percent will use their advanced research training and education not on a campus but in a variety of sectors, including industry, government and nonprofit settings. “These can no longer be called ‘alternative’ careers,” notes Prasant Mohapatra, vice-provost of graduate education and dean of Graduate Studies. “We must be innovative in how we prepare students and postdocs for diverse career paths.”
In fall 2017, 20 doctoral students and postdoctoral scholars formed the first cohort to participate in Leaders for the Future, an innovative program that embodies the university’s holistic approach to advanced education, which also encompasses the FUTURE program, funded by the NIH Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training (BEST) initiative, and GradPathways, professional development program. A second Leaders for the Future cohort began the program in January 2018.
A cross-campus collaboration between the Office of Research, the Internship and Career Center, GradPathways (Graduate Studies) and the Mike and Renee Child Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Leaders for the Future is a five-month certificate program that provides Ph.D. students and postdoctoral scholars from all disciplines with training in the skills needed to excel in careers across industry, government and more. Program fellows connect with applied experiences beyond academia through “immersive” activities—internships, job shadowing and special projects—while developing leadership, business communication, project management, innovation and entrepreneurship skills.
“We know that Ph.D. students have finely honed skills that translate well to a broad array of career paths,” explains Teresa Dillinger, academic administrator for professional development programs, Graduate Studies. “Programs like this one provide additional professional development that will serve participants well in whatever path they choose.”
Leaders for the Future is an implementation of the Advanced Scholar Career Enablement and Development (ASCEND) Program, funded by the State of California through Assembly Bill 2664: University of California Innovation and Entrepreneurship Expansion. The $22 million initiative—$2.2 million per UC campus—is intended to enhance the state’s network of programs and services that support innovators, entrepreneurs, startups, investors and industry and community partners.
About Leaders for the Future
A cross-campus collaboration between the Office of Research, the Internship and Career Center, GradPathways and the Mike and Renee Child Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, this five-month program helps Ph.D. students and postdoctoral scholars connect with applied experiences beyond academia through immersives (internships, job shadowing, projects) while supporting business skills development.
For more information, visit the Leaders for the Future webpage.