New initiative in graduate school aims to help doctoral students stay competitive in job market

Graduate School Dean Terri Scandura made waves last semester when she implemented Preparing Future Faculty (PFF), a program that helps doctoral students to stay on top of the competitive job market for a career in academia.

The PFF is a three year program that mostly prepares second year doctoral students for the life of a college professor.

“We’re looking for well-rounded students,” said Ann K. Masterman, Graduate Assistant to the Dean. “Also, those who show great promise for being a great professor.”

The student will learn the roles and responsibilities of a faculty member, which are teaching, research and service. Also, a mentor is assigned from the student’s field of study as a guide in the areas of an academic career and provides feedback on the student’s progress. It educates students on what to expect at different types of institutions from liberal arts to colleges that have master’s degrees.

“The PFF provides a realistic view on what the job entails,” Dean Scandura said.

It helps provide a support network, the right materials and makes students aware of academic areas.”

Even with the looming economic crisis, the Dean assures that the program will offer an advantage for students in the narrow job market.

The program, which began as a national initiative in 1993, did not benefit all graduate students in the University of Miami, until last year. Dean Scandura was invited to a PFF conference in El Paso, last summer where she learned about the benefits, components, common issues and interests that the program presented.

“I realized the skills were valuable and I should implement one here,” Dean Scandura said. “Through research and learning about the PFF, it made sense for the University to do it at this time.”

Assistant Dean of the Graduate School Sandra Abraham feels the program gives additional support to what students will be doing.

“The more a person knows about getting a job, the better off the person is as a job candidate,” Assistant Dean Abraham said.

Dana Janbek, a third year doctoral student of Communications wished the program could have happened during her time.

“It sounds like a great mechanism for doctoral students to navigate their way through academia,” she said.