Graduate students are notoriously busy; during the academic year, it can be hard to devote time to skills development. Summer, though, is a perfect time to develop new skills that will enable you to better tackle your short- and long-term goals when the fall semester arrives.

There are many resources available to help you improve your skills set over the summer, whether you’re going to be around campus or not! Below are a few suggestions.

For more ideas and information, read the Graduate Student Professional Development Guide, subscribe to the bimonthly Professional Development Digest, or contact Linda Louie, Professional Development Resource Coordinator.


  • Take a look at the Quick Guides to Writing Resources, Scientific and Technical Writing, Dissertation Writing, Scholarly Publishing, and Style Manuals on the Graduate Writing Center’s website for a wealth of recommended reading on these topics.
  • Sometimes, to take your writing to the next level, all you need is time and a quiet space to work. The Dissertation Writer’s Room, located in Graduate Services in Doe Library, is open during business hours over the summer. All doctoral students advanced to candidacy can use this comfortable space to write. You can also rent a locker in this room to store your books and other materials.
  • While you’re in the library, check out Writing your Journal Article in 12 Weeks (Belcher, 2009) — there is a copy on hold in Graduate Services. This step-by-step guide will walk you through the process of revising an article and submitting it for publication. A perfect summer project!
  • Activate your institutional membership to the National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity to take part in their 14-Day Writing Challenge, July 8-21, 2018. In this challenge, you commit to writing every day for at least 30 minutes. The website provides a structure for timing your writing, tracking your progress, and participating in an online support community. You can learn a daily writing habit in just two weeks!

Public Speaking and Language Skills

  • Toast of Berkeley, a Toastmasters club, meets year-round on Tuesdays 7:15-8:30 p.m. in 650 Barrows Hall. Their meetings help participants become more confident and effective public speakers. All are welcome, whether English is your first language or not, and whether you are just starting out or honing your skills.
  • If you’re off campus this summer but want to develop your public speaking skills, check out this one-hour “Public Speaking Foundations” course on (students have free access!).
  • If you want to develop your English pronunciation, listening comprehension, or grammar and vocabulary, check out the great language resources for international GSIs from the Graduate Student Instructor Teaching and Resource Center.

Teaching and Mentoring

Research and Data Analysis

  • Berkeley’s D-Lab offers free workshops on R, Python, qualitative data analysis software, Excel, data visualization, and much more. Check out their calendar – you could learn a new programming language in just a week! Total beginners are welcome in many classes – see individual workshop descriptions for details.
  • You can access online instruction for almost any technology or software platform on using the campus’s new institutional membership. You can follow a structured learning path (like this one, “Become a Front-End Web Developer“) or just watch one course at a time (like this 23-minute video, “Excel: PivotTable for Beginners“).
  • You can use the summer to map out the grants and fellowships you want to apply for next year. Mark the requirements and deadlines in your calendar now using the Graduate Division Fellowships and Awards website, and you’ll be sure not to miss any opportunities when the busy fall comes around.

Leadership and Management

  • Management skills come in handy in any setting, from running a lab to chairing a committee to applying for jobs in industry. Check out one- to two-hour courses on that cover coaching employees, managing teams, and delegating tasks.
  • Summer is the perfect time to think intentionally about how you want to contribute to campus and to your discipline in the coming year. You may want to research becoming a Graduate Assembly delegate, joining a working group, organizing a conference, or engaging in community outreach. This is a great time to figure out what your availability is like next year and to explore commitments you’d like to make.

Career Exploration and Preparation


  • Activate your institutional membership to the National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity and you’ll have access to the great videos in their library on topics such as: “Imposter Syndrome: How to Recognize It Overcome It, and Realize Your Academic Goals,” “5 Secrets to a Super Productive Semester,” and “Drama-Free Collaborations: How to Develop and Sustain Healthy Partnerships with Co-Authors.”
  • Join a summer goal-setting group hosted by Graduate Professional Development – you’ll set goals for the summer and then check in once a month with your group, which will offer support and help you stay on track. Contact Professional Development Resource Coordinator Linda Louie, Ph.D., for more information.