If you're a woman in a doctoral program in the sciences and engineering, you've already shown you're a star! Now you want to make it to the finish line. CareerWISE is your personal, expert, and confidential coach to get you there.

You know all about problem-solving in technical areas. Now learn to take on interpersonal and personal issues too. Communicate better even in challenging interactions. Watch role models. Develop new skills for your career. Depend on CareerWISE, where the best research in social science is applied to the everyday situations women encounter in science and engineering doctoral programs.

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Problem Solving Skills

The goal of the CareerWISE Problem Solving Method is to help you build resilience in order to stay focused and motivated, in spite of personal and professional challenges. The problem solving skills are designed to help you build resiliency, or “bounce-back-ability.”

It’s normal to experience multiple hassles and obstacles throughout your graduate school experience. Being resilient means that no matter what life throws at you, you will be able to manage it. Resilience helps you turn challenges into opportunities. Through the CareerWISE Problem Solving Skills, you will find personalized learning materials that will build your resilience and help you stay focused and motivated in graduate school.

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Communication Skills

Almost everyone has difficulties with communication at some point or another. Conveying your needs, thoughts, and feelings in an academic or professional environment can be especially challenging. The experience may leave you feeling nervous or even intimidated, especially when power dynamics are in play. Mastering the fundamental skills can make a big difference in how your career evolves.

The Essential Skills modules provide comprehensive instruction in four critical interpersonal communication skills: planning your message, active listening, expressing yourself clearly, and receiving and responding to feedback. Using real-life examples drawn from the reports of graduate students in science and engineering, you will hone your ability to communicate effectively for academic, personal, and professional success.

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Communication Simulations

Three interactive, multimedia simulations are available for you to practice what you are learning. Each practice highlights a specific scenario and gives you several opportunities to decide how to respond. You will be provided with feedback and observe that what you choose influences how the relationship proceeds.

The interactive simulations allow you to practice how to respond to three specific communication scenarios. The first is active listening, in which you help Bridget listen carefully for meaning and understanding of what her advisor is communicating. In the second simulation, you will help Rebecca express her needs effectively to her advisor. In the last simulation, you will have the opportunity to practice receiving and responding to feedback by navigating Rebecca’s interaction with her dissertation advisor.

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Common Concerns

Different demographic groups, such as women, racial and ethnic minorities, and international students may experience another type of subculture. Certain issues come up for many women due to prescribed gender roles and the overlap of the biological clock with the academic timeline. You might find it surprising and comforting to know that many women in science and engineering share the experiences you may be having. CareerWISE materials refer frequently to four types of common concerns: Advisor Issues, Balance, Climate, and Delays.


Do you receive the feedback and attention that you want from your advisor?

Do you find that your advisor is too demanding or is too critical?

Do your advisor’s priorities and work style differ markedly from your own?

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As a woman, are you expected to feel or behave in certain ways?

Are you having trouble fitting in with the others in your group?

Do you wish you were in a more collegial environment in your program?

Do you experience sexual comments, requests, or attention from others that you don’t want?

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Do you wonder how starting a family fits with launching your career?

Do you find yourself working hard but neglecting other aspects of your life?

Are you getting the support you need from your friends, family, and faculty?

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Do you worry that your research seems dominated by failures rather than successes?

Are you concerned about how long it will take you to complete your degree?

Do you find that aspects of the system (such as unclear requirements, lack of resources or financial support) are getting in your way?

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