Professional Development Opportunity: The PILOT Project


Graduate Students interested in non-academic careers

The Graduate School is accepting applications from students who are interested in participating in an exciting professional development program.

The PILOT ProjectPursuing Intentional Learning in Organizations Together“ is an initiative from the Michigan State University Graduate School, College of Social Science, College of Natural Science, and Citizen Scholars, in partnership with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD).

Its goal is to support the exploration, preparation and success of students in non-academic careers.

Throughout a series of speakers and workshops curated for and by program applicants, MSU participants will cultivate a reciprocal relationship with partners at MDARD. The program provides peer-to-peer networking, professional mentorship and training to navigate and succeed in the non-academic job market.

The program is scheduled July 11 - August 19th, 2022 and applications are due June 24, 2022; applicants will be notified of their acceptance by June 30th. Please find additional information and application requirements provided below. This is not a paid position.

Purpose and Benefits

The purpose of PILOT is to broaden participating students’ experience in non-academic working environments, facilitate opportunities to share research with non-academic institutions, and curate conversations between community partners. This program creates a mutually beneficial relationship that allows graduate students and MDARD experts to share their expertise through collaboration.

The PILOT cohort will benefit from a speaker series delivered by qualified MDARD guest speakers on jobs in government agencies, but also earn valuable experience in delivering content to non-academic institutions. This program addresses the growing interest of students who seek non-academic careers and who are seeking constructive programming and mentorship on transition and preparation. The program complements resources offered from Career Services and both elevates the conversation to include mentorship from peers and non-academic institutions and the opportunity for application and recognition. 

Another key benefit to student participants is the chance to co-create and support programming that MSU student and faculty leaders will deliver to MDARD leadership around topics of DEI. In other words, MDARD leadership has expertise in helping individuals make a successful transition from academic environments to other professional environments (including government agencies), while many MSU students have valuable perspectives and research on DEI topics to share with MDARD leaders.

To Apply

This program is open to all MSU graduate students in good standing and undergraduate students who are part of the Citizen Scholars at MSU. Preference is given to students who are nearing graduation and who are actively looking for non-academic career opportunities. 

Participants are expected to fully engage in programming events, July 11- August 19th. There is a tentative calendar established, and we expect the weekly time commitment is 2-3 hours/week for group meetings and speakers, and individual time working on career exploration materials. Activities are planned and facilitated by two graduate student program coordinators.

Throughout the week, participants will work independently on their own respective career materials as well as resources for the MDARD DEI Training and share their reflections during the weekly meeting. Two program coordinators will lead group meetings and also seek feedback from participants to ensure a quality experience.

To apply, please submit via Handshake a cover letter and CV. In your cover letter, please address the following 2 prompts:

1) Describe your career goals and interests

2) Describe any previous experience with DEI topics, training, or research.

For additional information, please feel free to contact Program Coordinators Yingyue Liu ( and Gabriela Shirkey ( with any questions. 

More details at