6 Ways to Make the Most of Your Graduate Program

Three graduate program students are sitting in an outdoor venue. One has their laptop open and they are talking amongst eachother.

Whether you're looking to advance in your current profession or transition into a new field altogether, enrolling in a graduate program can be a transformative step toward achieving your career goals. Here, we’ll explore six ways to make the most of a graduate program and set yourself up for success in your career.

Expand your professional network

Graduate programs encourage a rich networking environment with:

  • Peers

  • Professors

  • Industry professionals

The connections you make during graduate studies can open doors to job opportunities, collaborations, and mentorship. Because of this, you should take every opportunity to connect with peers and seasoned professionals. You should also remember to utilize your professors’ office hours.

Building a strong professional network can be crucial to accessing hidden job markets, gaining insights into industry trends, and receiving valuable advice from seasoned professionals.

Explore research opportunities

Many graduate programs, particularly those at the master's and doctoral levels, involve research components. Engaging in research allows you to develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and analytical skills.

Research opportunities can also give you the opportunity to contribute to the body of knowledge in your field, which can be particularly appealing to employers seeking candidates who can innovate and drive advancements in their industry.

Learn more about the research opportunities provided at PLNU in a day in the life of a PLNU Athletic Training graduate student, and be sure to talk to your professors and academic advisors about research opportunities available to you.

Lean into advanced skill development

According to Harvard Business Review, skills-based hiring is on the rise. Graduate programs focus on honing practical skills that are directly applicable to your specific field of study.

To name a few, these skills may include:

  • Effective communication
  • Data analysis
  • Project management
  • Proficiency with industry-specific computer programs
  • Familiarity with industry-specific tools and equipment

Focusing on acquiring advanced skills not only makes you more effective in your current role but also positions you as a competitive candidate for future leadership positions. Pay attention to the most in-demand skills within your field, and seek out opportunities to put them in practice.

Who are you called to be?
Pursue your purpose at PLNU.

Prepare for career advancement opportunities

Graduate programs can pave the way for career advancement by providing you with the credentials and expertise needed to take on more senior roles within your organization. Many companies prioritize candidates with advanced degrees when considering promotions or leadership positions, and graduate degree holders earn consistently more on average than those with only a bachelor’s degree. 

So, keep a close eye on opportunities you’re striving for. Set goals for yourself. Try looking at job listings for jobs you want to be able to qualify for, and try developing skills they’re asking for. Collaborate with other students and compare notes as you create career-building strategies. If you like the company you’re working for and want to advance to more senior positions, ask around and see if you can discover what qualities they’re looking for.

Stay informed about industry trends and best practices

Graduate programs often incorporate real-world case studies, guest lectures from industry experts, and internships or practicum experiences. This exposure to current industry trends, challenges, and best practices ensures that you are well-prepared to navigate the professional landscape upon graduation.

You should keep up-to-date about your area of study by attending optional events, reading academic journals and other publications within your field, and even watching documentaries or news stories. Keeping an eye on how things are progressing within your area of expertise is a great way to set yourself up for future success.

Set yourself up as a lifelong learner

One of the most significant advantages of graduate programs is the in-depth knowledge they provide in a specific field or discipline. Unlike undergraduate studies, graduate programs delve deeper into advanced concepts, cutting-edge research, and specialized skills.

However, rather than thinking of it as an extension of undergraduate-level education, think of it instead as setting yourself up as a lifelong learner, both in your personal and professional life. The skills and knowledge you acquire during your graduate program will train you to become an innovator, a deep thinker, and a versatile leading force in your chosen field.

Graduate programs at PLNU

The job market is competitive—so allowing yourself to stand out will help navigate your career intentionally. Continuing education can help with promotions, seniority, and subject matter expertise, which can increase your salary over time. All in all, enrolling in a graduate program is a strategic investment in your career.

With part-time, full-time, hybrid, and online programs, PLNU’s Graduate and Professional Studies offer the flexibility you need to take steps toward your success. Interested in learning more? Check out a list of PLNU graduate programs available.

Apply Now

Request Info