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    Lesson Ten – Professional Development
    Lesson Ten – Professional Development

    A university that is committed to maintaining an environment that fosters inclusiveness and success will have in place programs that go beyond the purely academic aspect of the students’ education. It will acknowledge the importance of preparing graduates for success in careers and will provide mechanisms for students to move to that next step.


    These programs can be offered periodically and regularly so that students can participate when they are ready.


    Provide an opportunity for doctoral students to present academic papers within the safety of the department. These presentations could be videotaped and constructively critiqued by fellow students and faculty prior to presentations to external audiences.


    Encourage doctoral students to join professional associations in their discipline, to develop professional networking beyond the campus. These experiences are important in socializing the student into the profession. They encourage networking and foster confidence-building for new initiates.


    Make it possible for students to publish in professional journals and present at national conferences. The willingness of faculty to share authorship with doctoral students is critical to professional development. Helping the student take the steps necessary to publish an article and submit an abstract for a conference presentation are basic aspects of good mentoring.


    Provide workshops on skills necessary to obtain employment in the students’ areas of interest, including role-played interviews. This is especially important for underrepresented students (minorities and women in some fields) who may have greater barriers to overcome in obtaining the best jobs. Job interview and negotiation skills can be taught.


    Bring professionals in a variety of fields— including ethnic minority and women leaders—to campus to share their experiences and provide networking opportunities for students. Because of the small numbers of underrepresented minorities in the STEM fields, students from underrepresented minority groups often have difficulty finding “models of identity” in their chosen academic field. A program might sponsor a visiting scholars program that would help students build alliances across universities, business and industry, and government agencies. Distinguished minority scholars can be invited to campus to participate in a lecture series hosted by minority doctoral students. Minority students are able to not only meet one on one with experts in their field but also to network with a role model with whom they can identify. Distinguished alumni from a variety of disciplines can be invited to participate in campus research fairs or speaker series, thereby providing concrete examples of success stories!


    Offer seminars on topics such as writing for publication, grant writing, role of the postdoctoral student, tenure and promotion, and how to obtain a tenure track academic position. Many students leave school with stellar academic credentials but lack these basic skills that are the key to professional success.


    For those students considering an academic career, workshops or courses on effective college teaching can make the difference when the graduate steps into the academic job market. The faculty development center on campus can be a partner in providing such training for both new faculty and upper level doctoral students.


    Career planning programs that widen the vision of doctoral students beyond the academy are crucial for graduates of many disciplines. The tight job market in higher education is widespread, and students need information about alternative employment options. The research and development needs of many small- and medium-sized companies are increasing as they continue to develop new technologies. The natural advance of technology is creating a plethora of new opportunities that require graduates to be able to work across disciplines. In addition, government agencies are converting some of their defense-oriented efforts to research in environmental work, communication, information, and other “hot” fields.


    Back: Lesson Nine      Next: Conclusion


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