Carnegie Mellon University

Professional Development

This site identifies a variety of resources that offer information about, and means to develop and advance, your professional skills including, written and oral professional communication, leadership, and project design and management. It also organizes the information for a variety of career paths that a Ph.D. chemist could successfully pursue.  Students may choose from several starting points for creating and strengthening your professional network.

You may use the "Resources for Career Paths" grid to create, evaluate and maintain a Professional Development Plan based on your own current career goals.

This site is certainly a work in progress because new resources and means to communicate them can always make it better.  Please feel free to contribute to making it better by communicating your feedback and suggestions to Catalina Achim achim@cmu.edu and Nicole Reading nreading@andrew.cmu.edu.  All input will be highly appreciated!

University Resources


Career and Professional Development Center

The CMU center provides resources to research companies, make connections and network with others, and apply and interview for jobs.

Skills: Networking, Job Search

Career paths: All


Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence

The Eberly Center provides seminars and individual consultations to help graduate students who wish to improve their teaching or prepare for future careers as faculty members. For students who may wish to pursue academic careers, particularly at four-year colleges or teaching-intensive universities, this is an invaluable opportunity to prepare for those positions.

Skills: Teaching

Career paths: Academic, Teaching; Other Careers


Intercultural Communication Center (ICC)

The ICC’s language training and testing for non-native speakers of English at Carnegie Mellon is designed to help students achieve the robust English fluency needed for teaching in the American classroom and giving professional-quality presentations. Students are strongly encouraged to take advantage of this resource even after passing the ITA test at the level required by the department in order to make their English fluency an asset in teaching, research communications, and their future careers.

Skills: Communication

Career paths: All


Global Communication Center (GCC)

The GCC provides free consulting for the CMU community at all levels of study. Their trained communication consultants help CMU students, faculty, and staff convey their ideas logically, clearly, and effectively in one-on-one sessions, and classroom workshops. Whether it’s written, verbal, or visual, get a second set of eyes on your project. Their expert feedback will help you write and present more effectively. Recent workshops have included topics such as “Making the Case that your Project is Novel” and “Team Communication.”

Skills: Communication

Career paths: All


Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship

The Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship works with its partners to serve the entire CMU community to accelerate bringing research innovations and promising ideas to the global marketplace and helping all entrepreneurial students, faculty, staff and alumni tap into the “innovation ecosystem.”

Skills: Leadership, Management

Career paths: Academic, Research; Industry, Management; Other Careers


Public Communication for Researchers

Public Communication for Researchers (PCR) is a student organization whose mission is to help graduate students hone their communication skills. PCR was founded by three Ph.D. students at Carnegie Mellon who wanted to raise the level of public discourse on issues related to science and technology.

Skills: Communication

Career paths: All


Office of the Assistant Vice Provost for Graduate Education (AVPGE)

Professional Development Seminar Series

Organized by the Office of the Assistant Vice Provost for Graduate Education, seminars in business, management and communications skills geared to better prepare our graduate students for successful careers in academic, corporate, public and research sectors.

Skills: Communication, Leadership, Management, Networking

Career paths: All

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Seminars

The Office of the Assistant Vice Provost for Graduate Education hosts a series of seminars to help students understand, prepare for, and write for the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship application process.

Skills: Communication

Career paths: Academic, Research; Industry, Research

Graduate Women's Gatherings

The Graduate Women’s Gatherings are opportunities for women of the graduate student, post-doctoral fellows, faculty and administrator communities to network, share ideas and experiences, gather resources.

Skills: Networking

Career paths: All

Students of Color

Network with fellow CMU PhD students of color or share dinner with students of color from CMU and University of Pittsburgh.

Skills: Networking

Career paths: All

College Resources

Sciences Teaching Club

Founded by Biological Sciences graduate students, the Teaching Club is organized by students who expect that teaching will play a role in their future. Teaching club officers organize a variety of events through the academic year, including seminars, discussion panels, workshops, and outreach opportunities that are geared towards providing first-hand teaching experience, and knowledge about teaching as well as the process of acquiring teaching-related jobs.

Skills: Teaching

Career paths: Academic, Teaching; Other Careers

Department Resources


Chemistry Summer Seminar Committee

This committee coordinates the Summer Seminar Series, where graduate students in the Chemistry Department host seminars delivered by peers. The seminars are a great opportunity to practice delivering professional seminars and serving on the organizing committee develops valuable organizational skills for organizing future professional meetings. The Summer Seminar Committee members are April Berlyoung, aberlyou@andrew.cmu.edu (chair) and Dima Kolodienznyi, dkolodie@andrew.cmu.edu.

Skills: Communication, Leadership

Career paths: All


Future Leaders of Science (FLOS)

Future Leaders of Science, founded by chemistry graduate student Danielle Chirdon, is an outreach organization that is designed to create and foster K-12 students’ interest in the sciences by displaying various science demonstrations to teach children the fundamental concepts in the sciences. Both undergraduate students and graduate students with a love of science, regardless of their level or field of expertise, are taught the demonstrations and then work together to display and explain the science behind the demonstration.

Contact: Michael Polen, mpolen@andrew.cmu.edu

Skills: Teaching

Career Paths: Academic, Teaching; Other Careers


Chemistry Alumni Facebook

Need link and description.

Contact: Professor Catalina Achim, achim@cmu.edu

Skills: Networking

Career Paths: All


PPG Science Education Council

Need link (if there is one) and description.

Chemistry Ph.D. Students Go Behind the Scenes at PPG

Contact: Silvia Bezer Bratu, sbezer@ppg.com

Skills: Networking

Career Paths: Industry, Research; Industry, Management


09-712 Communication Aspects of Scientific Research

The design and presentation of scientific plans and results to the scientific community are very important aspects of the work of any chemist, who needs to disseminate the results of research by publishing papers and to write research proposal to raise funds. This course will cover skills that are important for the design and writing of scientific documents, such as research reports, papers and research proposals. The course will also cover aspects of responsible research conduct in recording the results of lab experiments. The organization and presentation of data and research ideas for communication to the scientific community will be discussed. Students will learn about the scientific review process to which original manuscripts and proposals are subjected. Students enrolled in the course will be evaluated based on the quality of writing of a short original proposal in the format specified for an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship as well as for their participation in class discussions and in review of proposals written by others.

This mini-course is intended for graduate students in Chemistry in their first three years in graduate school. Undergraduate students who plan to apply for an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship will be able to enroll in the course. Postdoctoral fellows are welcome to audit the course.

This course is offered every few years. Check the current CMU Schedule of Classes.

Skills: Communication

Career Paths: All

Additional Resources


American Chemical Society Pittsburgh Section

The Pittsburgh ACS is a very active section with regular meetings held by the Energy and Technology committee, the Environmental Committee, and the Younger Chemists Committee. The ACS also has a strong outreach and networking program, not to mention the ACS National Meetings (largest scientific conference in the world) held twice a year.

Skills: Networking

Career Paths: All


AAAS Fellowships

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) offers postgraduate fellowships in public service, government and policy-related organization. Most if not all of them are for US citizens or green card holders.

Skills: Job Search

Career Paths: All


ACS Younger Chemist Committee (YCC)

The Pittsburgh YCC organizes events to help pre-career chemists find their path and develop the network and skills they need to succeed. They also host social events and do outreach related to science and education. The YCC is a subcommittee of the American Chemical Society.

Skills: Networking

Career Paths: All


National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers Pittsburgh Student Chapter

The Pittsburgh chapter of the National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE) was started in 2010, led by a CMU graduate student. The chapter includes undergraduate and graduate students, as well as postdoctoral fellows, from University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon, and Duquesne University. NOBCChE’s primary goal is to increase underrepresented minority participation in science, math, engineering, and technology (STEM) disciplines. Members attend scientific seminars, regional and national conferences, chapter meetings, community outreach events for students grades K through 12, and professional development activities. The chapter also hosts social events throughout the academic year.

Contact: Prof. Subha Das, srdas@andrew.cmu.edu

Skills: Networking

Career Paths: All


Society of Analytical Chemists of Pittsburgh (SACP)

Monthly speakers, and participation in PittCon (the largest Analytical chemistry conference in the US). Pamphlets are available at the guard desk on the 3rd floor of Mellon Institute.

Skills: Networking

Career Paths: Academic, Research; Industry, Research


Spectroscopy Society of Pittsburgh (SSP)

Monthly speakers, and participation in PittCon (the largest Analytical chemistry conference in the US). Pamphlets are available at the guard desk on the 3rd floor of Mellon Institute.

Skills: Networking

Career Paths: Academic, Research; Industry, Research


ACS Career Services

The American Chemical Society uses this site to offer links to many job listings as well as to resources for the learning of professional skills.

Skills: Job Search

Career Paths: All


Cornell Searchable Database of Postdoc Funding Opportunities

A searchable database of current funding opportunities for postdoctoral positions. It includes opportunities for non-US citizens and opportunities not funded by US-based organizations.

Skills: Job Search

Career Paths: Academic, Research; Industry, Research


Chemjobber

A blog that presents up to date information on open academic and industry positions for Chemistry Ph.D.s, as well as information on the chemistry job market.

Skills: Job Search

Career Paths: All


The Versatile Ph.D.

The Versatile PhD is a web-based, socially positive business that helps universities provide graduate students with non-academic professional development. Their mission is to help graduate students and PhDs envision, prepare for, and excel in non-academic careers.

Skills: Job Search

Career Paths: Other Careers