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SGSI 2022: Designing the Professional: Addressing the question, "Once I get my degree, how do I get a life?"

Monday, Sept. 12 – Friday, Sept. 16, 9 AM – 2 PM

What do you want out of life after Stanford?  Wondering how to weave together what fits, is doable, and will be truly meaningful?  Join us for Designing the Professional. This course applies the innovation principles of design thinking to the "wicked problem" of designing your life and vocation in and beyond Stanford.  We'll approach these lifelong questions with a structured framework set in a seminar where you can work out your ideas in conversation with your peers.

DTP's secret sauce is a course design that centers shared knowledge, discussion, and activities. Given this, your presence and participation impacts the entire community experience. In each session, there are short lectures by members of the teaching team, collaborative activities, individual reflections, and small group discussions. 


  • Kathy Davies, managing director, Life Design Lab
  • Chris Simamora, lecturer and fellow, Life Design Lab
  • Shanice Webb, lecturer and fellow, Life Design Lab
  • Urmila Venkatesh, lecturer and fellow, Life Design Lab

Audience & Capacity

Open to all graduate students in any discipline, as well as postdoctoral scholars, if space allows. If oversubscribed, preference is given to doctoral students near completion of their degree. Space is limited to 75.


By participating fully in this course, you will receive:

  • A framework for orienting your plans and philosophy regarding career and professional life, and for locating career within life overall

  • An approach to plotting a pathway to meaning-making and success as a professional

  • Ideas for evaluating different life and career paths and multiple careers

  • Practical skills and exercises for investigating alternatives and life and career "prototypes"

  • A basic introduction to design thinking which you can apply in other areas

  • A community of your peers in which to share your ideas and hear how others are thinking about these important issues and questions

  • A draft plan for the first season of your professional life following Stanford.


What is it you really want out of the life that your Stanford education is making available to you? Have more questions than answers? Have too many ideas for your career - or not enough? Wondering how to weave together what really fits you, is doable, and will be satisfying and meaningful? Then join us for Designing the Professional. All graduate students from all disciplines are welcome. 

We apply the innovation principles of design thinking to the "wicked problem" of designing your life and career. Design thinking, innovated at Stanford over the last 50 years, anchors the framework of the course, allowing students to gain awareness and empathy, define areas of life and work they want to work on, ideate about ways to move forward, try small prototypes and test their assumptions. The course is highly interactive, and will conclude with creation of 3 versions of the next 5 years, and prototype ideas to begin making those futures a reality.

The course will include brief readings, writing and reflections, and in-class exercises. The condensed SGSI format gives participants an intensive experience to thoroughly grasp the concepts while having plenty of time to reflect and talk with others on how to apply it. The course is taught by members of the Life Design Lab, led by Kathy Davies, MS Design and Managing Director, Life Design Lab.

Past participants who took this course said the following about their experience:

“Unique opportunity to think deeply about your aspirations, assumptions, and learn from your peers.” -SGSI 2021 Participant

“It's very hands on and practical guide in terms of exploring career options and making informed decisions, all while prioritizing your well being” -SGSI 2021 Participant

Additional Course Expectations

  • Students will complete about 1-3 hours of reading and reflective exercises outside of class each day.
  • Full attendance is expected. This course is able to accommodate students observing a religious holiday during SGSI. Please email for details.

Note: This course was derived from an intensive version of the same curriculum as taught in the popular ENGR311B - Designing the Professional.

SUNet ID required to log in; all SGSI correspondence sent to your Stanford email account.

Apply Now


Resource Type: 
Course or Workshop
Target Audience: 
All Graduate Students, Postdoctoral Scholars
Time Commitment: 
Grad Grow Competency: