CLAS hosts annual Career Boot Camp for graduate student and postdoc career exploration

Graduate students and postdoctoral scholars gathered for a two-day professional development event geared toward preparing them for their future careers.
Thursday, August 24, 2023

By Charlotte Brookins 

Osamamen Oba Eduviere and Andres Restrepo are two of the thousands of graduate students attending the University of Iowa. They come from different backgrounds and study different subjects —but both of them could be found in Voxman Music Building for the 2023 CLAS Career Boot Camp.  

On August 10 and 11, the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) hosted its 2023 Career Boot Camp for graduate students and postdoctoral scholars. The event, which focused on preparing Iowa graduate students and postdocs for the workforce and exposing them to a variety of career paths, featured a series of panels and workshops from CLAS faculty, UI alumni and friends, and CLAS and Graduate College leaders.  

“My motivation for coming to the event was probably my background,” third-year religious studies, PhD student Eduviere said. “I taught in Nigeria for five years before coming to the University of Iowa, and I’ve realized that I want to explore a career outside of academia. I have already learned so much about preparing myself for life after grad school in just a few hours.”  

Eduviere was one of dozens of graduate students attending the event, each from various backgrounds and areas of study. Although every student came with their own unique experiences and goals, they were all presented with valuable information to learn from, which they could then interpret according to their specific ambitions and interests. 

Speakers present at the CLAS Career Boot Camp event in August 2023

“I think that looking for jobs is an important search to start early,” Restrepo, a third-year PhD student studying anthropology, who attended the two-day workshop said. “Using events such as this boot camp and doing networking from the very start can help provide you for the tools you need when you graduate and start looking for jobs outside of academia.” 

CLAS associate dean for graduate education and outreach and engagement Christine Getz and other CLAS faculty members and staff collaborated with Jen Teitle, assistant dean for graduate and postdoctoral development, and Brady Krien, assistant director for graduate student success and assessment, as they created the event, arranging the thoughtful workshops, panels, and presentations shown to attendees.  

One of these panels focused on things past students wished they had known before entering their careers. The presentation featured four individuals with shared connections to the university as former students or current professional staff members. Each of them reflected on their time in school and the things that influenced their course of study and how they ended up where they are now. 

Lauren Cox, the assistant director at the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, made sure to focus on one particular piece of advice for current students, “I wish I had known to say yes to projects I was interested in, even if they weren’t directly affiliated with my dissertation,” she says. “You have to be willing to say yes to a lot of things and take opportunities as they come.” 

Speakers present at the CLAS Career Boot Camp event in August 2023

The annual CLAS Career Boot Camp, which began in 2021, was inspired by the Odyssey Program at University College Cork. It reflects the college's strategic priority of preparing graduate students and postdocs for a variety of post-graduate career opportunities. 

The University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences offers about 70 majors across the humanities; fine, performing and literary arts; natural and mathematical sciences; social and behavioral sciences; and communication disciplines. About 15,000 undergraduate and nearly 2,000 graduate students study each year in the college’s 37 departments, led by faculty at the forefront of teaching and research in their disciplines. The college teaches all Iowa undergraduates through the college's general education program, CLAS CORE. About 80 percent of all Iowa undergraduates begin their academic journey in CLAS. The college confers about 60 percent of the university's bachelor's degrees each academic year.