Attend Career Panels

Jessica Elmore moderates a panel with Chavez Carter, Gregory Ray, and Kent Goklen.

Career panel discussions are an opportunity for Ph.D. students and postdocs to interact with professionals, who are often alumni, to learn firsthand about specific careers.

As a way of learning about possible careers, some students have developed their own career panels and invited speakers from outside Cornell to talk about their careers. See Create Your Own Activity page on how to create your own career panel. We can provide guidance on how to recruit a team to spread the work and develop teamwork skills, set up a stellar, diverse panel, and even moderate it yourself if you are seeking additional leadership skills.

Actions to Take at a Career Panel

  • Prior to attending the career panel, look up the speaker, their job, and organization.
  • Identify if any aspects of the speaker’s job align with your interests. See if the organization hires others in adjacent roles you might be interested in.
  • If it is a career path that interests you, prepare questions about the position. However, remain open to paths you might know little about–sometimes exposure can awaken interest.
  • Ask the panelist for a few minutes after the panel to speak about his/her job and steps that you should take to build your expertise. If the panel was online, connect with them later via LinkedIn, and incorporate your comment/question in the invitation.
  • Send an email thanking the panelist for their time. State a topic or discussion point you found very interesting. This begins a conversation and is a simple way to ask questions and explore the field.
  • Listen and absorb–panels are a great way to discover opportunities and even rule out a career you previously thought was interesting.

Units across campus frequently host career panels in their specialties. View our calendar for upcoming events and opportunities. The Graduate School events calendar lists additional activities that support career exploration, diversity and inclusion, health and wellness, and academic information. Also, periodically browse Cornell’s events calendar or Cornell Career Services for additional panels.

Your department might also include speakers from beyond academia from time to time. If they don’t, perhaps you can suggest speakers to include; Careers Beyond Academia will help with funding and organization to invite speakers from beyond the professoriate.