Solve The Problem: Overview

Learn the CareerWISE Problem Solving Method, the key strategy for building resilience. Start here to find our resources, strengthen your “bounce-back-ability” skills and avoid getting off track. The CareerWISE Problem-Solving Method guides you through four steps. Working through the four steps will take you to dozens and dozens of skill-building units, personal testimonials, interactive learning opportunities, and self-tests. These materials are intended to help you feel more confident about your ability to handle both everyday and tough problems as well as develop strategies to be successful, both personally and professionally.


If you are feeling overwhelmed, you are not alone. 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 four-step Problem Solving Method, you will find personalized learning materials that will build your resilience by helping you to:

  • Understand yourself
  • Better understand your current situation
  • Learn a set of skills to build resiliency and communicate your thoughts, feelings, and needs.

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Step 1: Assess the Problem

Problem solving begins with stating exactly what is going on. Another essential part of problem solving is identifying how your thinking, feeling, and unique preferences influence your situation. You also need to think about the context of the situation. That includes not only understanding others’ perspectives but also clarifying policies and processes that may pertain. Assembling missing information is as important as collecting data before analyzing it.

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Step 2: Specify the Outcome You Want

Choose which problem to work on first. Often, a crucial step in proceeding in any plan or situation is an assessment of those things that are under your control and those things that are not. Focus on what’s right and create a positive statement that describes exactly what your successful outcome will look like.

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Step 3: Strategize

The best way to start strategizing is to generate different approaches you could use to reach the outcome you want. Before you can decide upon a course of action, you need to recognize what you know how to do and what you need to learn in order to apply your strategy effectively. Then, consider the possible solution strategies more carefully and make a decision about which have the best chances of success. Finally, you need to think through and rehearse the strategy you have selected.

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Step 4: Execute and Evaluate

Whatever strategy you choose, follow through with it. Feel confident that you’ve planned out your strategy thoughtfully and prepared in advance to handle it appropriately. If this one does not work out, you have other plans you can draw on. After you’ve implemented your plan, take some time to evaluate whether the outcome desired was achieved. Finally, review what you learned and how you can apply the learning to other situations.

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The Review provides a quick-reference version of the CareerWISE Problem Solving Method. You can print this out and keep it handy. The resources presented on the CareerWISE site can be used for many situations beyond the four Common Concerns that many women face in science and engineering PhD programs. Make a commitment to yourself and your goals as you would to an important project or grant in the lab.

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