About Us

Own Your Future, featured in University Affairs, June 2022, complements the doctoral curriculum by focusing on the often-overlooked skills and attributes of PhDs that contribute to their success within and beyond their studies. Whether it’s leadership in a department or campus community, mentoring students, or the ability to communicate research to a variety of audiences, these experiences demonstrate valuable transferable skills applicable to a variety of careers. 

Own Your Future:

  1. Enhances doctoral students’ ability to identify and articulate their skills to academic and non-academic audiences. 
  2. Facilitates doctoral student self-directed professional development learning.
  3. Supports doctoral student engagement in maximizing their graduate student experience with supports to thrive academically.
  4. Emphasizes career preparation and development to make the value of the PhD clear to doctoral students and potential employers.
The global culture of doctoral education has begun to shift and to recognize the true, multifaceted value of the PhD deg

Preparing Doctoral Graduates to be Leaders in the Contemporary Labour Market

The PhD has traditionally been considered a degree that prepares students for an academic career. Until recently, universities have not paid much attention to the fact that graduates are also successful in finding careers outside of academia. With this awareness, the global culture of doctoral education has begun to shift and to recognize the true, multifaceted value of the PhD degree. The challenge currently faced by research-intensive universities is how best to prepare doctoral students for a full range of careers.

Western University has stepped up to meet this challenge by developing and implementing Own Your Future (OYF) – a self-directed and individualized professional development program that complements doctoral students’ formal academic preparation, and enables them to find fulfilling, meaningful career paths. In the words of Western University President, Dr. Alan Shepard, we are empowering our students "to be agents in their own destiny."

Extending the Doctoral Curriculum to Include Professional Competencies

In partnership with key units across campus and our graduate community, the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies at Western University leads a shift in the culture and structure of graduate education through the Own Your Future (OYF) program. OYF is informed by an employer advisory committee, as well as ongoing feedback from doctoral students and the graduate education community. 

OYF makes professional development meaningful and makes the advantages of participating transparent and explicit. OYF is designed around competencies determined by broad consultation and an exhaustive review of research: Communication and Relationship Building, Leadership, Thriving, Teaching and Learning, and Career Engagement. Each competency is described by clearly articulated learning outcomes.

Central to the program is self-assessment. The Skills Self-Assessment tool engages students in the process of self-reflection to identify areas of strength and areas of growth. A personalized report directs students to learning opportunties designed to build and enhance their skillset. The OYF approach is self-directed. Students make decisions about where to invest their time and effort based on their personal and professional goals and desires.

The Skills Self-Assessment also makes explicit the largely invisible language that is necessary to recognize and articulate students' skills and competencies. Therefore, by participating in OYF, doctoral students learn what skills are needed to succeed during and after their studies. They become proficient in these skills, and are able to articulate them to others, with ease.