As the educational landscape evolves, one of the biggest challenges universities are facing is how to provide their students with comprehensive support systems that extend beyond the classroom. For graduate students, this commitment to provide support becomes even more crucial as they transition into the professional world. To help remove the gap between an educational degree and a career, a number of other universities in British Columbia have integrated particular strategies into their program structure to empower graduate students for success beyond academia. Recently the Union has been examining the best practices across these institutions and will be talking to our own graduate student members this fall about what should be considered here at TRU.
Graduate student ‘success’ is multifaceted: often based on individual goals, wellness, and access to support services. Students often perceive a large portion of that success to the ability to find work within a related field after the completion of their program. Some of the best practices we’ve identified that help support graduate students include unique industry and organization collaborations, curriculum career specializations, internships, practicums, and co-op opportunities.
For example, for Masters of Business Administration (MBA) students, Simon Fraser University offers a 4-month internship, while Vancouver Island University requires all MBA students to complete an internship prior to their graduation.2 The University of British Columbia ensures it’s Masters of Education (MEd) students complete 9-month practicum in their second year.3
These opportunities are built into the curriculum to ensure students leave their program with professional knowledge and often create pathways for students to get hired post-graduation. A career-oriented program structure ensures that graduate students earn a more recognizable degree; one that is highly sought after and valued by employers in their respective fields. 4
“Students need high-quality professional opportunities,” shared Mushri, a student representative on the TRU Graduate Studies Committee. “Projects and programming that have a real-world impact are vital in graduate education.”
TRU has a number of areas that have successfully incorporated these types of opportunities, but it remains limited to certain fields. Many students have reported struggling with the lack of career-based learning within their program.
To learn more about what graduate students are experiencing in our own community, we’ll be out on campus chatting with students about their concerns this fall. Stay tuned for more information on how you can provide your feedback or connect with us directly for more information.