Ph.D. Year 1 & 2

Welcome to this transformative resource for doctoral students. In this section you will find tips and resources as you navigate your early doctoral journey.

Your Academic Journey: First & Second Year Plan

Explore Your Options 

Your first and second years in your academic program are exciting yet full of uncertainties. You are identifying your support networks and resources can ease your journey to becoming a successful Ph.D.  

Be open to explore your different interests: Assessing what you enjoy or not is key to developing a mindset of finding meaningful work, opportunities and staying true to your values, strengths and goals. 

Steps to Consider During Your Ph.D. Journey

Starting Your Journey

  • Begin cultivating your research interests and use your coursework strategically to align with your research and career options. 
  • Check in with your Graduate Advisor/Supervisor/Principal Investigator and have conversations about the timing to start considering a Research Assistant or Teaching Assistant position opportunity. 
  • Be on the lookout for summer opportunities to research within and beyond the academy.  
  • Consider joining research (internal and external) opportunities to advance and broaden your research skills. 
  • Start keeping track of your academic goals (Use SMART goals framework)- ADD pdf LINK 
  • Create a semester plan. Watch Every Semester Needs a Plan Video  

Involvement Opportunities:  

  • Present a talk or be a guest speaker at national and/or local conferences.  
  • Trojan Tip: Think about turning your class project/proposal into a conference paper, symposiums and/or proceedings. If financial resources are not available, consider talking to your Graduate Advisor or seek resources through the Graduate School.  
    • Consider memberships to professional associations. 
    • Explore internship/research options in the academy, industry and pre-doctoral research opportunities. Seek guidance from your Academic Advisor. 
    • Attend the Beyond the PhD and Postdoctoral Career Conference (add link) 
    • Apply to Research Fellowships.  
  • Trojan Tip: Resources to know. 

Continuing Your Journey

  • Choose a faculty advisory committee (up to 3 faculty) – this could potentially be part of your qualifying exam or dissertation committee. 
  • Identify a Teaching Assistant or Research Assistant opportunity. 
  • Continue working with a research team and identify a research home.  
  • Have a manuscript or conference paper/poster ready by the end of the year even if you are not first author. This will be helpful with fellowships or future grant opportunities.  
  • Start thinking about how to leverage your research in the academy or industry. Utilize the Trojan Network or LinkedIn to identify alumni in organizations of your interest. Learn more on how to maximize LinkedIn through LinkedIn Learning  
  • Create your ConnectSC account and meet with a Career Advisor to discuss your career options 
  • Attend the Beyond the PhD and Postdoctoral Career Conference

  • Versatile PhD: Options for Success is a career exploration and professional development program that is designed to help graduate students and postdoctoral scholars identify viable career paths, understand the link between their degrees and the professional world, and confidently manage the transition from university to high-quality professional placement. 
  • Imagine PhD: a free online career exploration and planning tool for PhD students and postdoctoral scholars in the humanities and social sciences. 
  • myIDP Science Careers: a unique, web-based career-planning tool tailored to meet the needs of PhD students and postdocs in the sciences. 
  • National Center For Faculty Development and Diversity:  provides on-demand access to mentoring, crafting your professional identity resources, and support needed to be successful in the academy.  provides on-demand access to mentoring, crafting your professional identity resources, and support needed to be successful in the academy.