Use the Professional Development Guide to identify transferable skills, register for events, and access opportunities.

Whether you’re newly arrived on campus (welcome!), are returning after a summer away (welcome back!), or are merely gearing up for the new semester (good luck!), the beginning of the academic year is a great time to think about how to develop the skills that will help you thrive during graduate school and in your working life after graduation. Here at GradPro, we use the term “professional development” to refer to the learning and skills acquisition that grad students engage in as they ready themselves for the range of career paths available to them. 

As you make your way through the different stages of your program, remember that there are many professional development resources available to you at the campus level, in addition to those within your department. Overwhelmed? Not to worry. For help navigating all these events and opportunities, head over to GradPro’s website, the campus portal for resources related to graduate professional development.

GradPro’s Professional Development Guide is designed to help you navigate the professional development resource landscape at Berkeley. It also helps you identify the valuable transferable skills you’re developing in the course of your graduate training. These skills can be divided into six different categories:

  1. Writing and Communication: While you’ll likely have many opportunities to develop discipline-specific writing and presentation skills during your coursework and while writing your thesis, Berkeley offers a wide range of resources that can help you round out this section of your skill set. Make sure to check out the Graduate Writing Center, which offers a variety of services and workshops and a semester-long course for graduate students on academic writing (GSPDP 320).
  2. Teaching and Mentoring: Many graduate students work as a GSI (Graduate Student Instructor) or GSR (Graduate Student Researcher) during their time at Cal. If you’re looking to further hone your skills in teaching and mentoring, consider enrolling in the GSI Center’s Teaching Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education or GSPDP 301, a semester-long course on how to be an effective mentor offered by the Graduate Division.
  3. Research and Data Analysis: Whatever the focus of your degree, you’ll likely be doing a lot of dives into data. Given the importance of skills in research and analysis for work both within and outside of a university setting, students can substantially benefit from participating in working groups, acquiring a new language, learning how to code, or otherwise growing their skill sets.
  4. Leadership and Management: Aside from leading discussion sections, labs, and lecture, Berkeley students also can develop skills in leading people and managing teams through a wide variety of student organizations. In addition to organizations within your home discipline, check out the Graduate Assembly and consider becoming a delegate. If you’re interested in developing your leadership skills off campus, check out the Haas School of Business’ non-profit board fellowship program.
  5. Career Exploration and Preparation: Berkeley offers a wealth of resources to help you explore your career options. In addition to a robust set of workshops that will help you prepare for an academic career (including the popular Summer Institute for Preparing Future Faculty), you can also explore a variety of careers beyond the tenure track through student organizations such as Thriving in Science and Beyond Academia. For individual feedback on your plans for your time at Berkeley and beyond, it’s never too early to reach out to Berkeley’s Career Center to speak to an adviser who specializes in advising graduate students.
  6. Professionalism: Consider this competency the capstone to the rest. You can hone it through participation in professional conferences, networking during on-campus events, and developing strong work habits that will help you at Berkeley and beyond. Attend GradPro’s fall GradMap workshop series to get started.


Subscribe to the biweekly Professional Development Digest to stay up-to-date on skill-building events and workshops in each of these six areas.

You can also schedule a consultation at GradPro if you have any questions about these or other opportunities available to you at Berkeley. We can help you create an individual development plan, or just connect you with the resources you need to thrive at Cal.

David Bratt is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures and a Professional Development Liaison in the Graduate Division.