5 Goals for Your First Year in Graduate School

As you prepare to begin your new graduate program, setting goals can be a productive way to set yourself up on the path toward overall success.

Check out our suggestions for goals to set during your first year in graduate school.

GOAL: Start to make connections.

Graduate school provides you with the extraordinary opportunity to make personal and professional connections that can last a lifetime. Your classmates are your future professional peers, and they can provide you with peer support, advice, and friendship that will be invaluable to you as you build your career. Faculty members also represent important connections. Our faculty are thought leaders—they’re professionals who work in the best hospitals and institutions in the nation, and they serve on boards, professional organizations, and more. Stay in touch with them during your time at MCPHS and beyond.

HOW: Personally introduce yourself to your professors and exchange contact information with at least one fellow student in each of your classes. If you are in an online program, you are encouraged to connect with your professors through email, phone, and message boards. So take advantage of the opportunity!

GOAL: Take advantage of all of the academic support services available to you.

At MCPHS, there are plenty of places to find the academic support you need to be successful in your program. Through the Center for Academic Success and Enrichment (CASE), you can sign up for private tutoring, group study sessions, academic advising and more. The Disability Support Services (DSS) team works closely with qualified students to meet special accommodations.

HOW: Identify academic areas where you may need support this semester, and make an appointment with the corresponding department.

GOAL: Keep your eye on the prize.

You’re in graduate school because you are focused on bettering yourself. By gaining specialized skills and knowledge, you are on an important path toward professional development. Be sure to keep your eye on the prize: developing the skills and connections you need to advance your career. The Center for Professional Career Development (CPCD) at MCPHS helps students with the next steps to developing their career. A few of the ways they do this? By helping students prepare for interviews, giving expert advice on resume development, and providing access to a variety of professional development opportunities.

HOW: Contact the CPCD to find out how you can take advantage of their services, and be on the lookout for panels and speakers hosted by the CPCD.

GOAL: Find a mentor.

In the world of healthcare and the health sciences, trusted advice and thoughtful support can be invaluable. That’s where mentorship comes in. A mentor can be a formal or informal relationship with a someone you admire. That person could be a fellow student, faculty or staff member, manager, or co-worker. This person may be directly connected to your program of study or career, or they may be able to provide more general advice. As you grow your career, it’s important to have a sounding board for your ideas.

HOW: Think about the people in your program or in your job who you admire. If they already provide advice to you, ask them if you can meet more regularly and consistently as mentor/mentee. If you don’t have someone you are already close to, start identifying ways you can make professional connections and work toward a mentor relationship.

GOAL: Share the love.

If you are already working in your field while attending graduate school, consider sharing your knowledge with co-workers. Educating others can greatly help you make the most of your graduate program.

By giving a presentation or writing a briefing document for your co-workers, you refresh and reinforce your own knowledge. You may find that explaining a concept to a new audience forces you to develop a deeper understanding. And fielding questions from a new audience may help you identify areas of future growth and awareness.

In addition, sharing your knowledge from your program with your co-workers is a good way to demonstrate passion, engagement, and dedication to your supervisor. By bringing your academic knowledge to the table, you’re sending a message that you’re committed to continually evolving your knowledge and experience. In many workplaces, that can contribute to positive reviews and new opportunities.

HOW: Shortly after starting your program, connect with your manager or co-workers and discuss ways you can formally or informally share knowledge from your program.