PLAN your Professional Development

1. Self-Assess - If you are a new student, complete your self-assessment to learn which areas of professional development you should focus on. Self-assessment

2. Identify Needs - Interpret and analyze your self-assessment results:

P - If your self-assessment suggests you focus on Professional Development, you might need to learn more about program requirements or the culture of your graduate program.

L - To develop Life Skills, you might need to think about how you will manage your finances through the belt-tightening days of graduate school, or how to manage the emotional aspects of personal/family life with the rigors of academic study. You also might need to do some thinking about the idea of diversity in your interactions with your students, colleagues, and faculty. Now is the time to get off to an emotionally, physically, and socially healthy start to your graduate career.

A - Developing Academic Skills begins with understanding your own program requirements, and making an academic and professional development plan for yourself.

N - If you need to work on Networking, start by developing relationships with faculty and students in your own department. These colleagues are valuable resources for learning about your program and discipline.

3. Identify Resources - Regardless of your area of focus, you can find workshops to help you understand and address your needs, browse online resources, and attend special social and networking events to help you build your own personal support systems.

4. Track & Document - As you attend workshops and academies, track and document your participation. This will be valuable information for your CV or resume, and will help you reflect on your own professional development process. Refer to this list of past PLAN events to recall the details of those you attended, and track these along with your departmental or disciplinary experiences in your PLAN folder.

1. Re-Assess - If you are a continuing student, check back in with your professional development progress by completing the self-assessment each academic year. Your skills, needs, and priorities have likely shifted as you have progressed through the program.

2. Identify Needs - Interpret and analyze your self-assessment results, which mean something new at this stage of your studies:

P - If you need to develop professional development skills at this stage, perhaps you need to think about presenting your research at academic conferences, or even publishing. You should also be thinking about identifying potential career paths, and may need to develop your teaching skills further.

L - If your area of focus is Life Skills as a continuing student, you are well aware of the challenges posed by graduate studies, and maybe you feel overwhelmed by it all sometimes. You might benefit from improving your time management skills, managing stress and conflict at work, or developing local support systems. Overall, you probably need to identify your own priorities in work and life, and develop a plan to try to strike a healthy balance between them.

A - In the area of academic skills, you are likely shifting from coursework to qualifying examinations and other milestones. Confer with your advisors and peer mentors to gain a strong understanding of the culture and expectations surrounding these milestones. You should also be developing your own independent research project and the research and writing skills to complete it.

N - To develop in the area of Networking, build your professional networks both online and at conferences. Sharing your work and learning about the work of others at conferences and lectures is an important part of this process. You might also need to be thinking about how to identify funding sources for your research at this point.

3. Identify Resources - Regardless of your area of focus, you can find workshops to help you understand and address your needs, browse online resources, and attend special social and networking events to help you build your own personal support systems. You may also benefit from enrolling in an ongoing Academy to develop teaching, grant writing, or As you attend workshops and academies, track and document your participation. This will be valuable information for your CV or resume, and will help you reflect on your own professional development process. Refer to this list of past PLAN events to recall the details of those you attended, and track these along with your departmental or disciplinary experiences in your PLAN folder.

1. Re-Assess - If you are nearing the end of your program, assess your professional development record one last time to identify gaps you might address before going on the job market, or applying for other programs.

2. Identify Needs - Interpret and analyze your self-assessment results:

P - In the area of Professional Development, you’ll need to be thinking about the job search or application process for other graduate programs and post-docs. In particular, you should probably be thinking about how to identify and communicate your transferable skills for placement committees.

L - In the relation to Life Skills, it’s time to think about your goals for life after graduation, and transitioning to professional life. Where is life heading you now, and how will that impact you and your personal networks?

A - If Academic Skills is an area of focus for you at this stage, this means completing your thesis or dissertation. Remember, you are not alone! Seek support from colleagues within and beyond your department, writing groups and other forms of peer support.

N - If Networking is an area of improvement for you, you will want to work on your “elevator pitch,” as well as your job talk and other ways of communicating your research that are particular to the job search. Continue expanding your professional networks, considering the diversity of networks that you might draw on for different careers, post-docs, internships and other opportunities.

3. Identify Resources - Regardless of your area of focus, you can find workshops to help you understand and address your needs, browse online resources, and attend special social and networking events to help you build your own personal support systems. You may also benefit from enrolling in an ongoing Academy to develop teaching, grant writing, or entrepreneurship skills.

4. Track & Document - Now is the time to take stock of everything you have done and accomplished during your graduate program. The workshops you have completed to become a well-rounded professional are valuable to future employers, so consider including such information on your CV or resume. Refer to this list of past PLAN events to recall the details of those you attended, and track these along with the departmental or disciplinary experiences that shaped your professional development.