Position Description

Higher Education Leadership Opportunity, Office of Professional Development and Communications, Graduate School, UW-Madison

50% time/20 hours per week graduate assistant
$1562.58/month with tuition remission and benefits

Start date: June 6, 2016
3 candidates will be hired

These positions are within the Graduate School’s Office of Professional Development and Communications. The graduate students will (a) serve on the planning team to develop, implement, and assess programs that support the professional development of graduate students, (b) actively promote professional development opportunities to graduate students, and (c) engage in systematic activities to develop critical competencies central to academic leadership.

The graduate students selected for these positions will participate in a formal training program, under the supervision of the Director of Professional Development, that emphasizes the development of competencies necessary for leadership roles. Project assistants will learn about issues in higher education by receiving mentorship by leaders in higher education and by assuming responsibility for a high-priority project in the unit. In addition, the project assistants will develop in-depth knowledge of professional development needs of graduate students. Project assistants will develop and implement an Individual Development Plan structured around higher education leadership competencies and the Graduate School’s framework for professional development and meet monthly with the Director to track progress.

We invite graduate students from all disciplines to apply if they have:

  • Knowledge of the campus and the needs of graduate students
  • Ability to define how this position will contribute to one’s own career goals
  • Proven success in event planning e.g., generating new ideas for programs and collaborating with others on implementation
  • Experience with multiple social media platforms and an understanding of their contextual effectiveness
  • Experience writing email newsletters
  • Excellent organizational, interpersonal, written, and verbal skills
  • Ability to work both collaboratively and independently
  • Ability to handle a wide range of tasks, meet deadlines, and be attentive to details
  • Ability to learn and use technology, such as MyEmma and WordPress

If you are selected you can expect to:

  • Contribute to the team that plans, implements, and assesses programs that support the professional development of graduate students. Collaborate with campus partners. Engage in program evaluation, tracking and reporting.
  • Assist with the Graduate School’s communications to graduate students. Create GradConnections; maintain webpages and WiscLists. Keep event calendars current. Explore and utilize new ways to promote OPD’s events through marketing and outreach. Edit the Guide to Graduate Student Life.
  • Provide administrative support using independent initiative and judgement. Provide logistical support for events and enlist the support of student volunteers.
  • Engage in a guided exploration of higher education topics and academic leadership through research, job shadowing and other activities.
  • Participate in meetings, committees, and other activities in the Graduate School.
  • Develop and implement an Individual Development Plan structured around higher education leadership competencies and the Graduate School’s framework for professional development.

How to Apply:
Please submit a cover letter and resume highlighting your qualifications as they relate to this position. Describe issues in higher education that are of interest to you. Include a list of three professional references. Note: a CV is not an acceptable substitute for the resume. Applications must be received by April 25, 2016.

Send application materials to:
Name: Chelsea Poeppel
Email Address: poeppel@wisc.edu
Address: 500 Lincoln Drive, Room 317 Madison, Wisconsin 53706
Primary Phone:608-262-8386

Links: OPD 2015 Annual Report

Project examples:

  • I provided the UW-Madison Graduate School with statistical analysis of data produced by the pilot version of the Faculty Survey of Student Engagement for Graduate Student Instructors (FSSE-G). As a result of this and similar experiences, I have become more comfortable applying my statistical training in data analysis, synthesizing a comprehensive assessment of the results of my analysis, and then communicating these results in language that is accessible to a variety of audiences.
  • I have had the opportunity to help organize several large-scale conferences. The office has entrusted me with the management of several aspects of event logistics – ranging from venue and menu selection to the creation and organization or registration materials. As a result, I have learned about many different organizations on campus and learned how to effectively work with different groups across campus.
  • During my time with the Graduate School Office of Professional Development and Communications, I was responsible for redesigning our newsletter, GradConnections Weekly. I also identified a new email system to utilize for this email, and coordinated with the vendor. This project allowed me to develop my visual design and communication skills.
  • A project that I have been working on is the creation of the professional development framework for graduate students. I participated in meetings with graduate student groups to vet the framework and I mapped the framework facets to campus resources. Working on this project allowed me to expand my knowledge of campus resources and units and deepen my understanding of professional development.


“The position as a Project Assistant for the Graduate School’s Office of Professional Development is a great opportunity to learn about higher education administration and apply organizational and communication skills.”

“Working for the Graduate School’s Office of Professional Development has strengthened and expanded my professional skill set. I have had opportunities to work on a variety of projects, and to learn about the many different ways in which the Graduate School supports grad student on the UW-Madison campus.”

“Every day in the office provides new opportunities to problem-solve and to learn how to use new tools. I have developed many skills while working for the Office of Professional Development that I will use in my professional career.”

“The Office of Professional Development has fostered my interest in higher education administration. The professionals in this office actively welcome the opportunity to work with graduate students and provide many opportunities to grow one’s professional skill set.”

“Through this position, I have developed a broad understanding of higher education issues (especially those pertaining to graduate studies) and continued to strengthen my applied analytical and technical skills.”

“Working for the Office of Professional Development has given me so much insight into aspects of graduate education I would never have otherwise seen, especially as a Master’s student. I was able to get a great sense of the differences between the Masters and Dissertator experiences. I also feel I have a much deeper appreciation for the uniqueness of the programs across campus and how the Graduate School works to bolster the resources and skills students receive from their programs.”

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