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David Abraham is a fifth year PhD student in the Chemistry department.

1. Tell us a little more about what you’re studying at the moment and what your research focuses on.

As an analytical chemist I’m investigating single-cell signaling in cancer cells by developing cellular preservation strategies and click-chemistry based probes.

2. What are your professional goals after graduate school?

Following graduate school, I’m looking to become a teaching professor at a research university.

3. How has participating in the Graduate School’s professional development programs and offerings benefited your professional development? Is there a particular program or resource that has helped you the most or that you found to be especially valuable?  

The Graduate School’s programs have been vital to my professional development. Initially, I came to graduate school without a clear career in mind, but I participated in a number of events put on by CIRTL, TIBBS, The Graduate School, and the Chemistry department to get a sampling for different career paths. Through these experiences I met with and discussed chemistry career paths in the pharmaceutical industry, science communication, and academic teaching. Thanks to CIRTL and TIBBS programming, I feel incredibly well-prepared going into teaching careers. In my PhD work I didn’t learn about course development, evidence-based teaching practices, or diversity in the classroom but CIRTL and TIBBS ran workshops that allowed me to develop a strong pedagogical background despite not having education as a central component of my PhD research.

4. Are there other steps you are taking now as a graduate student to prepare yourself for the job market/your industry?

Through CIRTL I’m wrapping up a teaching-as-research project, where I’m investigating the efficacy of The Graduate School’s TA Institute. Additionally, I’m actively applying for postdoctoral positions with teaching components.

5. What is something you wish you had known about professional development in your first year of graduate school? 

I wish I had a grasp of how many professional development opportunities UNC offers. Had I known about the opportunities earlier, I believe I could have honed in on my chosen career path earlier in my PhD studies. Once I knew my career interests, I attended workshops and series that helped me prepare for the job application process. Had I started this development process sooner, I believe I could have gained even more relevant experience for my chosen career.

6. Do you have any professional development or career planning advice to offer your fellow graduate students?

The biggest piece of advice I have to offer is to chase down as many opportunities as possible that sound interesting. It’s difficult to choose a career path without knowing what’s available. Going to as many events as possible and talking to people who are in those careers gives much better insight than reading about a career. Beyond learning what you’re interested in, going to many events can also key you into open positions that you may have not known about otherwise.

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