A New Initiative: The Professional Development Council

What does it mean to be a professional? Representatives from across the spectrum of graduate education and student services are coming together to define what this term can mean to UC graduate students. "A professional answers to a higher code. A professional is not just here to get a job and make money. A professional brings people together."

Any student can identify as a professional, bridging the gaps between diverse disciplines of study. And when the needs of all graduate students are considered from a professional development standpoint, everyone in the university community benefits.

The Professional Development Council is a new initiative to coordinate opportunities for all graduate students. "Our vision is to connect independent units and combine efforts to think strategically about professional development," says Yonatan Eyal, director of graduate studies at the Graduate School. The council meets to discuss respective departments' latest efforts to enrich the graduate experience and prepare today's students to become tomorrow's scholars, researchers, scientists, and performers. When movers and shakers from these diverse areas of study gather in one room, innovative ideas are born.

Get a glimpse of the latest professional development initiatives currently in the works straight from a few of the representatives below. If you don't see your program or office represented, consider joining the council. Coordinating resources and support for students of all backgrounds is integral to the university's vision for quality graduate education.

How have you benefitted from being involved in the Professional Development Council, and what do you hope to achieve in the future?

Joseph Cunningham of the Academic Writing Center:

The Academic Writing Center benefits from the collaboration that the Professional Development Council provides. We utilize ideas generated in the Professional Development Council meetings in our graduate student program development. By virtue of being a part of the council, the Academic Writing Center hopes to steer some of our programming towards professional development opportunities. Writing is obviously a professional skill that's nearly universal across the disciplines, so providing the right writing improvement opportunities can really be helpful to students as they transition into a given field.

Steven Howe of the Fellows of the Graduate School:

It's been wonderful learning more about some of the initiatives of which I had been unaware, particularly the writing initiatives. I look forward to seeing how the Graduate Student Fellows program can be integrated with these and with the Preparing Future Faculty program.

Sheva Guy of the Preparing Future Faculty Program:

It has been great just to get exposure to all the different offices that offer professional development opportunities to graduate students and be able to make connections with the various representatives. As for the Preparing Future Faculty Program, it was nice to be a part of Donuts & Development and share our program and available courses with graduate students. My main goal is to expand the Donuts & Development event to reach more students. The fall 2017 event will be on September 14, and we hope to make it bigger and better this time around!

Theresa Culley of the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards:

I represent the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards at UC, and we have only been a part of the Professional Development Council within the last few months. But already, I can see that the council provides a wonderful means of meeting other partners on campus to develop unique collaborations to benefit graduate students. I look forward to working with members such as the Academic Writing Center to develop workshops for graduate students on how to best apply for specific prestigious awards and fellowships, such as the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) awards and the Fulbright award.

Written by Dakota Wright, Graduate Assistant to the Graduate School Office