Begun in 2020, the Diverse Careers Initiative (DCI) recognizes that our graduate students pursue a wide variety of jobs after completing their degrees. Although the planning for the DCI began well before COVID-19 shrank the already precarious academic job market, the initiative seems especially salient today. In this pilot year, we are grateful to the Dean of Humanities and our Partners of the Center for support that has helped us launch two aspects of this Initiative: a Fellowship and a mentoring platform.
Diverse Careers Fellowship
This fellowship supports a current graduate student to design, develop, and implement programming for students considering non-faculty careers inside and outside the academy. Working closely with our Staff Associate Director, Houston-area community organizations, and our Partners of the Center (POC), the fellow helps to realize the Center’s goal of supporting and mentoring students with a wide range of career ambitions.
Our programming in the DCI takes place through our Feminist Labs. Some of these Labs will hone professional skills – like the Feminist Inclusive Remote Pedagogies Lab that, earlier this summer, led both students and faculty through workshops examining on-line teaching from multiple perspectives of access and inclusion.
Other Labs will connect graduate student researchers with Houston-area non-profits, in much the same way that undergraduate researchers have connected through the Seminar and Practicum in Engaged Research. While undergraduate students are often available only over the course of a single academic year, we envision that graduate students could engage longer-term relationships, leading to richer possibilities for collaboration and community building.
Community / Graduate Connection Platform
Another element fueling this initiative is an online platform we expect to launch in Fall 2020. Designed and developed by our Community/Graduate Communications Fellow, this platform will help our graduate students connect with individuals and community organizations in the greater Houston area. For graduate students, the platform offers a network of qualified mentors invested in the work of the Center. For businesses and community organizations in the greater Houston area, we hope that relationships with our graduate students can make the benefits of feminist, interdisciplinary research more accessible. Deepening these relationships both exposes students to a wider array of professional fields and generates opportunities for locally focused research partnerships.