Scholarships & Online Resources for Social Work Students

Need to finance your social work degree? See a long and detailed list of scholarships for students of social work, which can help you drive down your tuition and keep your loan amounts at a minimum.

A degree in social work prepares students to work with a variety of people who need a helping hand. To get started, most students enroll in a bachelor’s degree program (BSW), and some move on to a master’s in social work (MSW) or even a doctorate (DSW). Whether pursuing a baccalaureate or an advanced degree, the journey requires time and money. And when it comes to your tuition, fees, and other expenses, the more options you have to choose from, the better. This guide lists scholarships and grants available for students in social work, and connects you to important college and career resources you can access online. Keep reading to find what you need.

Scholarships and Grants for Social Work Students

The student loan is the go-to source for funding a college degree, but it’s far from the only one. Two other great sources are scholarships and grants. Scholarships and grants are particularly attractive because they are not paid back, making them “free money” for paying for your education. Grants are typically awarded based on the recipient’s financial need. Scholarships, on the other hand, are competitive and commonly awarded based on a combination of factors, such as academic achievement, voluntary participation with community and other charitable causes, and impressive components in the candidate’s application package.

Below, we take a look at the different types of scholarships out there for social work students, including some of the best national and regional awards currently available. We’ve also included some helpful advice on finding and winning social work scholarships.

School-based Scholarships in Social Work

Scholarships for social work students come from a variety of sponsors, including professional associations, nonprofit organizations, special interest groups, private businesses, and individuals. Another major social work scholarship source is the college or university itself. It’s quite common for a school to feature scholarships that are available exclusively to their social work degree students, typically sponsored by local civic groups and businesses, as well as alumni associations and individual alumnus. To find out if your school offers exclusive social work scholarships and grants, contact your program’s director or financial aid office.

Here are two schools with exceptional scholarship offerings for their social work degree students:

Social Work Scholarship Spotlight:
Boston University

Boston University’s School of Social work offers both doctoral and master’s degree programs. BU’s Master of Social Work (MSW) program is of particular note, available in full-time on-campus, part-time off-campus, part-time online, and part-time hybrid formats. To support their academic goals, BU offers exclusive scholarship opportunities to social work students in all of these MSW programs, including the scholarship highlighted below. Scholarships are awarded based on a number of factors taken from the applicant’s admissions packet, such as merit and academic performance, experience, and the applicant’s personal statement and letters of recommendation. Awards for continuing students are made based on the applicant’s GPA and availability of funds. To learn more about these scholarship opportunities, visit the MSW Scholarships webpage.

Hubie Jones Urban Social Work Scholarship

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Amount

Up to $6,000

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Deadline

2/8/21

Eligibility

Open to full-time and part-time MSW students engaged in social work practice in an urban setting.

How to Apply

Application for this scholarship is made through submittal of the degree program’s admissions packet.

Social Work Scholarship Spotlight:
University of Houston

Like Boston University, the University of Houston’s Graduate School of Social Work is home to both master’s and Phd degree programs, as well as a substantial number of scholarships offered exclusively to its social work students. There are currently over two dozen scholarship and fellowship programs available to either or both master’s and doctoral degree students, as listed on school’s Scholarship and Financial Support webpage, including the one described below. Several assistantships and stipend programs are also available. A single application is submitted to be considered for the majority of scholarships, which is accessed via the webpage linked here.

George Foundation Scholarships

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Amount

$41,000

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Deadline

5/1/21

Eligibility

Available to bi-lingual MSW students who are Fort Bend County residents. One award is presented (over two years) to a full-time student in the traditional (on-campus) program, and one award is given (over three years) to a part-time student in the hybrid (on-campus/online) program. Candidates must additionally demonstrate financial need and be will to commit to working with Spanish-speaking clients in Fort Bend County for a minimum of two years following graduation.

How to Apply

Fill out the GSWS application form accessed from the scholarship webpage.

National and Regional Social Work Scholarships

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Organization

Alice M. & Samuel Yarnold Scholarship Trust

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Amount

$1,000 – $5,000

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Deadline

5/19/20 (Annual)

Eligibility

Applicant must be a New Hampshire resident currently enrolled in a post-secondary social work, nursing, or medical education program and intending to work in New Hampshire. Demonstrated financial need and scholastic excellence are also required.

How to Apply

Contact the scholarship sponsor at the address given. Documents required include transcripts, two letters of reference, and an essay.

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Organization

Bethesda Lutheran Communities Auxiliary

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Amount

$3,000

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Deadline

5/15/20 (Annual)

Eligibility

Open to Lutheran junior or senior students pursuing an undergraduate degree in any major (with minimum 3.0 GPA) at a four-year institution that prepares them to serve and support people with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

How to Apply

Follow the link on the scholarship page to access the application form and instructions. Documents required include official transcripts, four letters of recommendation, essay, and documentation of 100 hours of service (volunteer or paid) to individuals with developmental and/or intellectual disabilities.

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Organization

Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)

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Amount

$500

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Deadline

8/23/20 (Annual)

Eligibility

Available to full-time students who are in the last year of a CSWE-accredited bachelor or master’s degree program with a demonstrated commitment to work for social justice and equity in social work.

How to Apply

Contact the scholarship program for full application requirements and instructions.

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Organization

National Association of Black Social Workers (NABSW)

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Amount

$1,500

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Deadline

6/28/20 (Annual)

Eligibility

Applicant must be and African American enrolled in a full-time social work degree program with a minimum 3.0 GPA. NABSW membership and demonstrated research interest in the black community is also required.

How to Apply

Click on the link on the scholarship webpage for access to the application form.

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Organization

NASW Foundation

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Amount

$4,000

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Deadline

3/11/20 (Annual)

Eligibility

Open to MSW students with a commitment to working with Hispanic/Latino and American Indian/Alaska Native populations.

How to Apply

Follow the scholarship and NASW membership instructions on the scholarship website. Documents required include official transcripts, two letters of support, biographical essay, and statement of merit and financial need.

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Organization

Omega Life Membership Foundation/Omega Psi Phi Fraternity

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Amount

Up to $5,000

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Deadline

6/1/21

Eligibility

Open to students enrolled full-time in a graduate or professional degree program in social work, social sciences, or criminal justice.

How to Apply

Fraternity members should contact their local chapter for application package, and return the completed package to the chapter chairman. Non-fraternity members should contact the scholarship sponsor to obtain the application package, and return the completed package to the scholarship sponsor.

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Organization

The Arc New York

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Amount

$3,000

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Deadline

1/11/21

Eligibility

Applicant must be a New York State resident in a full-time degree program (undergraduate or graduate) in social work or other field related to intellectual or other developmental disabilities.

How to Apply

Use the link on the scholarship webpage to access the application form and instructions. Application form requires the applicant to provide answers to several questions regarding education plans, meaningful achievements, etc.

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Organization

American Board of Clinical Social Work/EPICC

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Amount

$500-$1,000

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Deadline

11/20/20

Eligibility

Open to students in the final year of an MSW degree program. Requires submittal of a winning paper describing the process of a field-placement intervention and demonstrating the applicant’s readiness to enter professional practice. EPICC membership is additionally required.

How to Apply

Visit the scholarship website for the online application form and for requirement details for the paper.

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Organization

National Association of Puerto Rican Hispanic Social Workers (NAPRHSW)

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Amount

$1,000 – $2,500

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Deadline

6/22/20 (Annual)

Eligibility

Available to Latinx students with significant financial need who are residents of the New York City Metropolitan Area, and pursuing a master’s degree in social work at one of nine area colleges.

How to Apply

Download the application form and detailed instructions via the link on the scholarship FAQ webpage. Completed applications are submitted to the applicant’s graduate school, not the scholarship sponsor.

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Organization

Maryland Higher Education Commission

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Amount

$1,000 – $5,000

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Deadline

Varies

Eligibility

Open to Maryland residents attending a full-time or part-time degree program in social work (or other healthcare-related major program) at the University of Baltimore or one of several other Maryland postsecondary institutions offering master’s degrees in social work, nursing, or pharmacy.

How to Apply

Complete the FAFSA and contact the institution the applicant plans to attend to be considered for this scholarship program.

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Organization

Zeta Phi Beta Sorority

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Amount

$500 – $1,000

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Deadline

2/1/21 (in-office)

Eligibility

Applicant must be a member of the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority pursuing a graduate or professional degree in social work.

How to Apply

Follow the link on the scholarship webpage for the online application form and instructions. Documentation requirements include official transcripts and three letters of recommendation.

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Organization

National Association of Black Social Workers (NABSW)

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Amount

$1,000

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Deadline

6/28/20 (Annual)

Eligibility

Available to associate, bachelor’s, master’s and Phd students with a minimum 3.0 GPA enrolled at least half-time in a social work, sociology, or related major program. NABSW membership and demonstrated community service are additionally required.

How to Apply

Follow the link on the scholarship webpage to access the application form and instructions.

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Organization

Phi Alpha Honor Society

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Amount

$3,000, $2,000, and $1,000

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Deadline

5/31/21

Eligibility

Award available to students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in a CSWE-accredited social work program. Phi Alpha Honor Society membership and demonstrated academic excellence, community involvement, and leadership potential are additionally required.

How to Apply

Click the link on the scholarship website and follow the online application instructions.

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Organization

American Board of Clinical Social Work/EPICC

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Amount

$1,000

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Deadline

11/20/20

Eligibility

Open to MSW students in their first year of studies. Applicant must submit a winning paper that recounts the process of a field-placement intervention. EPICC membership is also required.

How to Apply

Fill out and submit the online application form on the scholarship website.

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Organization

NASW Foundation

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Amount

$4,000 (plus $1,500 toward conference attendance and leadership development)

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Deadline

3/11/20 (Annual)

Eligibility

Available to MSW candidates with demonstrated interest or experience with health/mental health practice and a commitment to working in African American communities. NASW membership is additionally required.

How to Apply

Visit the scholarship website for scholarship and NASW membership information. Documents required include transcripts, two letters of support, and a biographical essay.

How to Land Your Social Work Scholarship

Winning a scholarship, or maybe even a few scholarships, is a great way of making your degree program more affordable. It also feels great. But like anything else worth having, landing scholarships takes some real thought and effort. And the single most important thought when it comes to winning scholarships is: sweat the details. Remember, you only get one chance to impress the scholarship board, so make sure that impression is a great one. Here are five tips to help you do just that:  

  • Select your contests carefully.
    Sweating the details starts with carefully choosing the scholarship contests to which you want to apply. Every scholarship contest has its own unique intent, application requirements, and criteria for selecting winners. So, it’s crucial that you have a clear understanding of all of those elements when selecting the contests you want to make the effort of pursuing. In short, you can waste a lot of time going after scholarships you have little chance of winning if you don’t pay attention to the details.
  • Get to know your sponsors.
    Lots of scholarships specifically for social work students are sponsored by social worker professional associations. And membership in those associations is often a requirement for their scholarship applicants. Therefore, it’s a good idea to join up as soon as possible and start participating in association activities. It’s called networking, and networking within the group sponsoring a scholarship you want is a great way of increasing your chances of winning that scholarship.
  • Make your application package shine.
    You either qualify for a scholarship contest or you don’t. But qualifying for a contest and winning the award are two different things. Scholarship contests are competitive, so you have to find a way to stand out from the other candidates, and the only way to do that is with an impressive application package. So, put in the extra time and effort to find the best writers for your letters of recommendation, and – this is especially important – be sure to write the very best personal statement or essay you can.
  • Go after the tough ones.
    Some scholarship contests make you jump through a lot of hoops with lots of requirements, like multiple letters of recommendation, essays, interviews, etc. Don’t let all that stuff stop you from applying. Remember, if you’re turned off by all the extra work, others will be, too. That that means there will likely be fewer applicants and, therefore, less competition. And less competition means a better chance of winning.
  • Know your deadlines.
    And finally, knowing and meeting all contest deadlines is beyond crucial. It’s very simple: There’s no three strikes rule in scholarships. If you miss just one deadline, you’re out. So, don’t do it.

Need More Help Paying for School?

As mentioned above, scholarships and grants are particularly attractive sources for funding a social work degree program due to the fact that there are no requirements to pay them back. For most scholarship and grant recipients, however, their awards will only serve to partially defray the costs of their educations. Fortunately, there are a number of other strong sources that students can use to help pay for their degree programs, starting with student loans. Student loans are available from a number of providers, but the largest provider, by far, is the federal government through its Federal Student Aid program. Other funding sources include internships and assistantships, work-study, and for veterans, the GI Bill. Another option to consider is loan forgiveness through the Federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, NIH Loan Repayment Programs, and other similar plans.

For more on funding your social work education, visit these EduMed’s student loan and financial aid webpages.

Academic and Professional Support Resources for Social Work Students

Finding a degree program and earning that degree are only the first steps in launching and building a career as a social worker. Building a career requires time and effort across the entire length of one’s professional lifetime, and that’s something that can’t be done alone. In short, if you intend on a successful career in social work, you’re going to need help. The good news is that there is a wealth of excellent resources out there to support you before, during, and after the time you spend in your social work degree program. The following is our list of some of best of those resources to get your started.

Social Work Student Support Centers and Services

For most people, the first stop they’ll make in their resource search will be their school’s student support services center. And that’s true whether you are just beginning to look for a degree program, just entering your program as a freshman and looking for academic counseling or student housing, or about to graduate and seeking help in landing your first job as a social work professional. Your college’s campus may feature a single location that houses all of its student support services, or those services may be offered at a number of different offices. Regardless, you will likely be able to find detailed information on student support services on your school’s website.

Below we’ve highlighted two colleges that feature quality student support services programs to give you an idea of the resources you might expect to find on your school’s campus.

Columbia University

Both MSW and PhD in Social Work programs are available from Columbia University’s School of Social Work, located on the university’s New York City campus. CSSW also offers an online MSW program that is available to students in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Information and links to the nine offices that make up CCSW’s student support services can be found on its Student Support Services webpage.  These services are available to both online an on-campus students, and include the Office of Advising, where each student is assigned an advisor to help them with both academic and life issues, and the Office of Career Services and Leadership Management, where students can receive guidance and support at every stage of their social work careers. Other important CSSW resources include computer and financial aid services, as well as access to the department’s Writing Center.

University of Washington

UW’s School of Social Work offers several options on its Seattle campus for students seeking a degree in social work, including a Bachelor of Arts in Social Welfare, a Master of Social Work, and a PhD in Social Welfare. BASW and MSW programs are also available on UW’s Tacoma campus. Students in these degree programs seeking academic support are advised to first contact their program’s academic advisor who can direct them to any of a number of school resources and services, including the SSW Communication Center (with access to student blogs, newsletters, events, social media groups, etc.) and the SSW Writing Center (with access to writing tips and workshops, and to make an appointment with a writing tutor). Details on how to access these and other resources can be found on the School of Social Work’s Student Support & Resources webpage.

Resources for Online Social Work Students

It’s no secret that online college education is no longer a novelty. In fact, postsecondary distance learning is becoming as common and acceptable as its on-campus counterpart. And with the growing popularity of online college degree programs – of which there are plenty in the social work field – has come the need for more online resources to support students in those programs. Here are five resources designed to help online social work students get started:

  • Earning Your Master’s in Social Work Online
    Brought to you by EduMed, this guide provides an excellent starting point for individuals interested in locating and completing an online Master of Social Work degree. Readers learn what to look for in choosing an online MSW program, how to find funding, what can be done with an MSW degree following graduation, and much more.
  • Encyclopedia of Social Work
    Created through a collaboration between the NASW and the Oxford University Press, this online encyclopedia will be the first stop for many online social work students seeking quality resources for their academic coursework and throughout their professional careers. Some content requires a subscription, but plenty of free content is available.
  • The Online Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work
    Another great EduMed guide, this one designed to help students seeking a quality online Bachelor of Social Work degree program. Learn how to find the fully-accredited online BSW program that best suits your academic needs and career goals, how a BSW degree can launch your successful social work career, and more.
  • Online MSW Program Library Research Guide
    Excellent clearinghouse site that brings together hundreds of quality resources (books, articles, journals, databases, etc.) that online social work students can use when doing research for papers, class assignments, and more.
  • Social Work – Free Research Sources
    Another great information/database site for online social work students, this one from the Eastern Michigan University Library. From this website, students can access a variety of research databases and statistical sites, as well as search the resources of websites of over 700 public policy groups and think tanks.
  • Transitioning to Online School: A Guide for Healthcare Students
    EduMed’s excellent guide for helping students new to distance learning make a smooth and efficient transition to the online learning environment. Readers will find useful information and advice about learning management systems and other related technologies, how to effectively communicate with instructors and other students, developing good online study habits, and much more.

Student Organizations and Professional Associations

  • National Association of Black Social Workers (NABSW)
    The NABSW is a professional association of social workers of African ancestry committed to empowering all people of Black ancestry through research, advocacy, and delivery of social services. Membership benefits include access to networking opportunities and discount pricing on local, state, national, and international NABSW conferences.
  • National Association of Social Workers (NASW)
    With over 120,000 members, the NASW is the largest professional association of social workers in the world. Discounted student memberships are available that allow members to access a range of NASW resources and participate in association-sponsored activities and events.
  • Phi Alpha Honor Society
    Phi Alpha is the national honor society for social work students, faculty, and practitioners. Through its over 450 chapters throughout the U.S. and Canada, Phi Alpha sponsors activities, events, scholarships and grants, and more, all to help its members succeed in their careers, as well as to promote and improve the social work profession.
  • School Social Work Association of America (SSWAA)
    The SSWAA is a professional association whose goal is to provide evidence-informed services that connect, equip, and empower school social workers. Student memberships are available that provide full access to association activities, professional development resources, networking opportunities, and more.
  • Society for Social Work Leadership in Health Care (SSWLHC)
    With over 700 members in local chapters throughout the U.S., the SSWLHC is the premier association of social workers employed in the healthcare field. The SSWLHC is dedicated to the promotion of availability, accessibility, coordination, and effectiveness of healthcare for everyone.

Online Communities, Networking Sites, and Other Social Groups

  • A Spot for Social Workers… Reddit Community
    Reddit community offering its 30,000 members an excellent, highly-informative forum for addressing topics concerning social worker personal and professional issues. Open to social work professionals and anyone else interested in the social work field.
  • Social Work and Social Work Student Advice and Support Facebook Group
    Facebook group with nearly 18,000 members with the goal of uniting professionals and students to discuss issues and challenges relevant to the social work field. Group membership is required.
  • Social Work Book Group Twitter Group
    As its title indicates, this Twitter group offers a forum for social workers and others to share their recommendations and opinions on books related to social work education and practice.
  • Social Work Tutor Facebook Group
    In the case of this Facebook group, the title may be a little deceiving. The Social Work Tutor Group is dedicated to providing its more than 50,000 current and future social worker members a place to make friends, discuss issues, share stories, and find personal and professional support.
  • Social Workers Meetup Groups Page
    Currently boasting more than 70 groups and over 10,000 members worldwide, this Meetup page provides information about in-person events where social workers and others can connect in an informal social environment.

Articles, Videos, Books and Podcasts

  • A Day in the Life: Tips for First-Year MSW@USC Students
    The title of this article says it all. You don’t have to be a master’s student at USC, however, to apply the good advice offered here to help you succeed in your social work undergraduate or graduate program.
  • The Importance of Self-Care for Social Workers
    This brief but insightful article discusses the importance of self-care in avoiding burnout caused by the stressful social work environment, and sustaining a long, healthful professional career.
  • NASW Social Work Talks Podcast
    The Social Work Talks Podcast webpage features access to more than 50 (and counting) episodes on practically every social work-related topic you can imagine. Topic examples include suicide prevention, supporting LGBTQ youth, negotiating your salary, and facing the opioid crisis.
  • The New Social Worker: The Social Work Careers Magazine
    The New Social Worker is an online and hard copy magazine that offers book reviews and articles on social work students, practice issues, professional ethics, technology, social work specialties, and more. Visitors can subscribe to the free digital edition and e-newsletter.
  • Top 10 Tips for New Social Work and Nursing Grads
    This article presented by the Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work at USC offers solid advice to MSW graduates on how to successfully navigate early challenges in their post-degree professional lives.