by Cynthia Verba, Director of the Fellowships Office
Professional development, broadly defined, refers to ways of enhancing career options. The process consists of two components, and both are important.
One is to develop new skills that appear to be important in the career fields that are of interest to you. For example, a popular area for PhDs is in academic administration. While you already have the advantage of firsthand knowledge of an academic institution, you probably have had little or no exposure to office work. To pursue a career in academic administration, you would need to acquire new skills that are of value in an administrative office. Another popular area is the world of business. Here you would need to familiarize yourself with the culture of the business world and also identify some skills that are essential in many business settings, including moving in a quantitative direction if that is a blank spot. The main point is to add to your current skills and experience to satisfy the demands of a new sector that you might want to enter.
The second component to the process of professional development is to take inventory of the skills that you have acquired or are acquiring as an integral part of your graduate training and to identify those that would enhance options in whatever career path you choose, including academe. The main point here is to identify those skills that are generally valued in a range of career paths and to develop them to the fullest while you are in graduate school. For example, good teaching requires skills that would be valued in a broad range of career fields, over and above academe. Similarly, skills in writing winning fellowship proposals would be equally attractive, as would the ability to get published or to gain a place in a professional panel discussion. The main point here is to be conscious of the potential value of the skills you are already acquiring during your graduate training and to develop them as fully as possible while you are still in school.
GSAS has a variety of services to assist you in professional development, whether it is in component one or two.
- Make an appointment with the Fellowships Office for support as you apply for fellowships.
- If you are a PhD student who entered in fall 2015 or later, make use of the professional development funding included in your financial aid package.
- Attend events and classes offered by the Fellowships Office, the Office of Career Services, and the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning.