Develop These Six Core Professional Competencies During Your Time as a Graduate Students

Not sure what steps to take to advance your professional development? Follow this essential and newly revised Professional Development Guide on how to develop the key competencies of career and professional development. These competencies are broadly relevant, helping you develop skills that are valued highly across diverse career paths. Whether you are considering a job within or beyond academia, the Guide will help you make the most of professional opportunities available to you as a graduate student.

The Six Essential Professional Competencies

Writing and Communication: Strong skills in professional writing, oral communication, and digital media are fundamental to succeeding in nearly every career. Some opportunities for developing these skills are built into your graduate program, but many additional opportunities and resources are available to you as a graduate student. The Writing and Communication Competency introduces key resources, opportunities, and guidance for developing new abilities in writing and communication. By intentionally developing these skills, you will be better prepared to succeed both as a graduate student and in diverse work settings.

Teaching and Mentoring: The skills you develop in teaching and mentoring, such as establishing expectations, assessing the work of others and giving constructive feedback, managing the work of a team, and creating inclusive learning environments, are valuable skills for varied career paths. The Teaching and Mentoring Competency explores opportunities and resources for developing skills and experience in both teaching and mentoring that are available to you during your time as a graduate student.

Research and Data Analysis: Conducting research, analyzing complex information, and building knowledge is a central part of many careers, both within and outside of academia. In the Research and Data Analysis Competency, learn about how you can develop broad skills in planning and conducting research, such as skills in data analysis, ethical research design, and grant writing.

Leadership and Collaboration: The ability to lead teams and work collaboratively with others is essential in careers both within and beyond the academy. Relevant skills, such as time management, conflict resolution, and abiding by ethical norms and codes, can help you to be an effective collaborator and leader. Learn how to develop these and other relevant skills in the Leadership and Collaboration Competency.

Career Exploration and Preparation: Do you know what kind of careers fit your interests, goals, and skills? Career exploration is a key step in not only broadening your knowledge of career possibilities, but also reflecting on the values and motivations that inform your career plans. Whether you are considering an academic career, a non-academic career, or are open to either, the Career Exploration and Preparation Competency provide resources and guidance for exploring and preparing for diverse career options.

Equity & Inclusion: Being a responsible and respectful colleague, researcher, and community member requires developing important skills in equity and inclusion. These skills will enable you to understand and counter systemic barriers to equity, work with collaborators and colleagues from diverse backgrounds, and advocate for the inclusion of individuals faced with racism, sexism, ableism, ageism, classism, sizeism, and other forms of discrimination. The Equity and Inclusion Competency explores opportunities and resources available to help you develop these important skills in equity and inclusion.



About the Author: Sophie Major is the Director of GradPro: The Graduate Student Professional Development Resource Hub. They have a Ph.D. in Energy & Resources and study environmental politics and Indigenous political thought.