Tips for Grads: Professional development – a step beyond your discipline

By Foram Gathia, PhD student

Professional development encompasses a variety of resources and opportunities designed to enhance both academic and professional skills. These resources include formal training programs, such as workshops, courses, and certifications, as well as informal learning opportunities like volunteering for projects, participating in professional organizations, and seeking mentorship. We’ll focus on a few of these opportunities in Tips for Grads this summer.

Graduate students can create an Individual Development Plan (IDP) to assess their current skills and set goals for future development. The Office of Professional Development at the Graduate School also offers DiscoverPD, a tool to help students identify areas for growth across eight professional development facets. On-the-job experiences, such as taking on new responsibilities or participating in job rotations, are highly encouraged to build practical skills.

Networking is another key component, with opportunities to join communities of practice, attend events and workshops, and engage in mentorship programs. Financial resources and access to platforms like LinkedIn Learning support continuous learning and career advancement. Additionally, all graduate students have free access to Beyond Graduate School, Beyond the Professoriate and NCFDD using their NetID.

Overall, the Graduate School emphasizes a proactive approach to professional development, encouraging students to take advantage of the myriad resources available to achieve their career goals. Future Tips for Grads this summer will cover some of the above resources and focus on a few of these opportunities so stay tuned for more!

Tips for Grads is a professional and academic advice column written by graduate students for graduate students at UW­–Madison. It is published in the student newsletter, GradConnections Weekly.