Graham School News

Opportunities for Career Advancement: An Evening with Professionals

On February 8 at the Gleacher Center, the Graham School’s Professional Development Programs held an open house where professionals looking to advance in their careers had a chance to explore the various degree and certificate programs offered at the Graham School. Through speaking with instructors, alumni, and admission advisors, participants had the opportunity, over refreshments, to network with a diverse field of professionals while also taking advantage of the complementary professional headshots available to all present.

With a major winter storm impending, Mary Morley Cohen, associate dean of Professional Programs at the Graham School, noted the grit shown by those present for coming out on such a night. She went on to emphasize in her remarks the role that qualities like grit, focus, and passion have in advancing one’s career, citing a recent UPenn study showing that one’s grit and self-control were better predictors of success than talent. 

Mary Morley Cohen - UChicago Professional Programs

“That study showed,” she said, “that when it comes to some of the toughest challenges we face in life it’s grit and perseverance that leads the way to success. What’s more,” she added, “the study found that grit is something that can be cultivated and worked upon and further developed.” 

She also highlighted intellectual curiosity as a key element to an individual’s career outcomes, noting that the dynamic seminar-style classroom settings practiced at the University of Chicago do much to foster an environment centered around digging into intellectual problems and asking the really tough questions. She pointed, lastly, to the value of having a diverse and strong professional network in enhancing one’s career.

“So, if you came tonight to learn more about the Editing certificate,” she said, “I recommend that you speak with someone from the Biomedical Informatics program as well, or maybe someone who can talk to you about digital marketing. Develop and expand your network. The world today is becoming more and more siloed, making the value of gaining different perspectives through speaking with people from different backgrounds all the more important. I look forward to being part of your network in the future,” she added.

Spread out across the expansive 6th floor of the Gleacher Center, with surrounding windows looking out over the Chicago River and DuSable Bridge, were tables for the various professional programs. For the entirety of the two-and-a-half-hour event, program representatives fielded questions and guided attendees through the different programs’ courses of study and application requirements. 

David Wanner - MScA Alumnus

Samarpit Chakraporty, a Master of Science in Biomedical Informatics (BMI) alumnus who entered the program with a background in biostatistics, was new to the field of bioinformatics when arriving at the Graham School. His time in the program benefited his career markedly, he says, because it allowed him to transfer his skills into a new domain.

“I’m here tonight speaking on behalf of the BMI program and encouraging others to apply,” he said, “because of the opportunities the program opened up for me. Connecting with my peers at the University of Chicago and the variety of opportunities I had to grow and expand in my career were extremely valuable.”

Applying for a professional master’s degree requires submission of a transcript, three letters of recommendation, and a personal statement, as well as a current resume and application fee. Popular sources for letters of recommendation include professors, supervisors or managers, and professional mentors.

Jennifer Miller, a tax manager with over ten years of experience, came to the open house hoping to learn more about the Project Management certificate. Looking to advance in her career, she realized she needs additional skillsets to do that, so she decided to chart a course to business school.

“The Project Management certificate seems like a great first step to business school,” she said. “I came wanting to learn about that, but when I heard about the Graduate Student-at-Large: Business program, where I can take single classes at the Booth School of Business, I’m now interested in that too.”

Monique Phillips, who’s currently finishing up a master’s program at Argosy University while working with National Able Network, came hoping to build her professional network and learn more about the Project Management certificate as well.

“My job is centered around building relationships between organizations,” she said. “An event like this where I’ll not only learn more about a certificate that would be valuable to my career but also meet other professionals is certainly useful and something I’ll be able to take a lot away from.”

Rebekah Saunders - certificate alumna

Application requirements for professional development certificates include a bachelor’s degree, a transcript, and a brief statement of purpose, along with the application fee. Applicants can expect to hear back regarding their acceptance 5–10 business days after the submission date.

In the end, the evening was deemed a success by all, with organizers and participants pleased both by the networking opportunities the evening provided as well as the professional headshots they walked away with. That the storm pushed itself off until a little later in the evening was an additional relief. For those who attended the event and who have additional questions, or for anyone who wishes they could’ve been there, all questions can be directed to