Steps You Can Take

Organize Departmental Professional Development Activities

Departments and research centers on campus offer graduate students a variety of professional development activities. These include alumni panels, workshops, speaker series, and courses run by graduate students or co-run by graduate students and faculty members. Some units, such as the Center for Latin American Studies, provide funds to cover the costs of running these groups and events.

Taking the initiative to organize an event in your department gives you the opportunity to coordinate team work, create and execute a work plan, and build a sense of community, all hallmarks of professionalism. For ideas, peruse “Promising Practices: Steps Departments Can Take to Support the Professional and Career Development of Graduate Students,” developed by the Graduate Council’s Advisory Committee on Graduate Student and Postdoctoral Fellow Professional Development; or look at the programming offered by student-run professional development groups on campus.

Serve on a Campus Administrative or Academic Committee

The bodies that make university policy include committees under the purview of the Academic Senate (e.g., Diversity, Equity, and Campus Climate; Library; Teaching; Demonstrations and Student Actions; Academic Freedom); as well as committees appointed by campus administrators (e.g., Course Materials and Services Fees; Campus Advisory Committee on Creative Arts; Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on LGBTQ Communities at Cal; Police Review Board).

Serving on such committees is expected for tenure-track faculty at many universities, so sitting on committees as a student is a useful way to develop and exhibit the collaborative skills this work requires. It can also help you learn policy-making skills valued in many professions.

Some committees have special requirements for student members, while others are more open. To learn how to serve on a committee, which committees have openings, and what committee membership entails, contact the Graduate Assembly (GA) or join the GA as a departmental delegate.

Participate in Student-Organized Professional Development Events

Among the Graduate Division’s Professional Development campus partners are a number of student organizations that organize professional development events and initiatives on campus. Getting involved with these organizations is a great way to demonstrate interest in campus affairs and network with students, faculty, and employers. Moreover, experience with graduate professional development initiatives can be an asset on the academic job market. Student-run professional development organizations on campus include:

Participate in Student Government

The Graduate Assembly (GA) is the official representative body of graduate and professional students at UC Berkeley. Its responsibilities include administering a budget, setting an advocacy agenda, and running a variety of important outreach projects (such as the Graduate Minority Student Project; the Graduate Social Club; and Graduate Student Parent Advocacy, among others). To get involved, become a delegate and represent your department or graduate student group as a voting member of the governing body.

Some departments may have a formal election process, while in other departments you can become a delegate by just filling out the Appointment Form. Start by checking the status of your department’s representation, and learning more about what being a delegate entails.