graduation cap icon Leadership and Collaboration

Initiative and influence can be exercised in many ways. Find way to develop leadership skills applicable to a wide range of academic and non-academic careers.


Leadership skills & steps you can take to develop them *

Disciplinary and Departmental Leadership

Steps You Can Take

Organize Departmental Professional Development Activities

Departments and research centers on campus offer a variety of opportunities to participate in professional development activities. These include working groups, speaker series, and networking events 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. Participating in these activities or taking the initiative to begin a group or organize an event gives you the opportunity to coordinate team work, create and execute a work plan, and build a sense of community, all hallmarks of positive leadership.

Contribute to the Organization of a Conference on Campus

Organizing a conference on campus can provide valuable opportunities to learn and demonstrate organizational skills, engage in fundraising and budget management, and contribute to the development of disciplinary knowledge. Many research centers, institutes, and departments sponsor workshops and conferences initiated or organized by graduate students.

Organize a Session at a Professional Conference

Organizing a session or panel at a professional conference demonstrates knowledge of your field and an interest and willingness to contribute to its further development. It also provides experience with logistics and team management, both of which are applicable to project leadership in many settings.


Professional Ethics

Steps You Can Take

Complete the Required Course on Professional Standards and Ethics in Teaching

Managing a classroom successfully requires an understanding of the ethical dimension of leadership. This entails the ability to address difficult situations fairly so that those involved feel you support them and have their best interest in mind. Decisions made in teaching also need to abide by existing policies and laws. Facing challenges and making decisions as a leader or manager in other organizational settings is no different. The training provided through the Course on Professional Standards and Ethics in Teaching will bolster your ability to create a strong sense of commitment among individuals and teams to achieve common goals.

Complete Training in Responsible Conduct of Research

Research may require you to protect the privacy of human subjects, to observe ethical standards for research using animals, and to respect the rights of others to be recognized as contributors through proper citation, co-authorship, and granting of permissions for use of material covered by copyright. Training in the Responsible Conduct of Research and the Sponsored Projects Office (SPO) can help you accomplish these tasks successfully. Just as specific policies and ethical guidelines govern knowledge production in the modern university, analogous policies and standards govern project management, research, and development in other organizations.

Take Workshops on Fostering Inclusion in Research and Teaching Settings

Promoting inclusive work spaces and leveraging the creative potential of diversity are key to succeeding in modern multicultural organizations and fundamental skills needed in leadership and management positions. Teaching and conducting research in a diverse setting like Berkeley are great opportunities to learn and develop these skills. The GSI Teaching & Resource Center offers workshops designed to help you build inclusive classroom environments and promote participation among undergraduate students with different backgrounds. It has also developed a teaching guide with research-based recommendations to help you foster inclusive learning environments. The Multicultural Education Program (MEP) also offers diversity workshops and trainings on a variety of topics.

Group Management and Team Work

Steps You Can Take

Pursue Training in Group Management, Conflict Resolution, and Managing Difference

There are many graduate courses offered across departments on campus that offer training relevant for a range of careers. Search the schedule of classes for courses that offer training in leadership, workplace diversity, and conflict resolution among other relevant issues. Organizations such as Science Leadership and Mangagement (SLAM), Career Development Initiative for the Physical Sciences (CDIPS), MCB 295, and Beyond Academia host excellent lectures and workshops on leadership and management.

Undertake a Team Project

While graduate school demands significant individual work, many graduate programs, research centers, and institutes on campus provide opportunities for students to work together in groups to carry out collaborative, team-based research. These offer you an opportunity to develop a range of skills relevant for many other contexts. These skills include the ability to guide and contribute to team work, the ability to coordinate the work of people with different skill levels and different backgrounds, and the ability to communicate effectively.

Incorporate Team-based Projects and Group Work into Teaching

Teaching affords you the opportunity to develop many leadership skills transferable to other settings while also employing activities that contribute significantly to student learning. Group work and team-based projects enable you to practice skills fundamental to leadership and management: the ability to design and guide group projects and activities, establish clear expectations, respond appropriately to conflicts, assess performance and the outcomes of work, and foster a sense of community.

Outreach and Community Engagement

Steps You Can Take

Explore Community Engagement or Public Scholarship and Teaching Opportunities

Community-engaged scholarship and public service are recognized as valuable parts of professional practice and leadership. Berkeley’s students have a long history of engagement with local communities, as scholars and as citizens. Many graduate students are involved with outreach to schools, teach in the San Quentin Prison Teaching Project, or have helped integrate community-based participatory learning activities into courses. Bringing your scholarship and teaching to bear on issues of local concern helps you develop valuable leadership, communication, and professional skills.

Contribute to Student Groups

Berkeley’s engaged student body offers myriad opportunities to work with and lead teams that carry out projects beyond individual academic research. Getting involved with student-run organizations or student government is a great way to develop and showcase leadership and communication skills, demonstrate an interest in campus affairs, and network with fellow students, faculty, and staff.


Teaching and Mentoring as Leadership

Steps You Can Take

Serve as Head Graduate Student Instructor (GSI)

Managing a classroom involves many skills that are transferable to other contexts. These include public speaking, answering questions clearly and accurately, maintaining records, time management, assessing work and giving constructive feedback, creating objectives and goals for your work and the work of others, working with a supervisor, and assessing your own performance.  Being a Head GSI gives you the added responsibility of coordinating the work of junior colleagues who make up the teach team and exercising leadership skills such as negotiation, conflict management, complex data management.

Serve as an Acting Instructor-Graduate Student (AI-GS) for a Course You Have Designed

As an Acting Instructor-Graduate Student you serve as the Instructor of Record for a particular upper division course. Although you are still under faculty supervision, you have the autonomy to design and run every aspect of the course. Consider speaking to the Graduate Student Affairs Officer (GSAO) in your department to learn about openings for teaching opportunities in your field. You can also learn more about this position in the GSI, GSR, Reader and Tutor Guide.

Serve as a Formal Mentor for an Undergraduate

Mentoring undergraduate students will help you develop skills that are transferable to mentoring junior colleagues in other organizational settings. One aspect of mentoring is concerned with the substantive aspects of the tasks at hand. The other is about motivating people to do their best work, guiding them through challenging situations, and giving them constructive feedback. There are training programs and courses on campus that will help you develop these skills and give you an opportunity to apply them in practice.  These include a graduate course on mentoring (GSPDP 301), Student Mentoring and Research Teams (SMART), Berkeley Connect, and Getting into Grad School (GiGS). You’ll find information on these programs on the Graduate Division’s page on Mentoring.



* Some skills serve in the development of more than one competency. Some skills may apply more to one discipline than to another. Keep in mind that the list of skills and steps you can take to develop these competencies is not exhaustive.


Leadership skill-building workshops & events

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Selected resources to help deepen your Leadership skills

Resource Provided By
MCB295: Careers for Life Science PhDs
Student Mentoring and Research Teams (SMART) Graduate Writing Center GSI Teaching & Resource Center
The Berkeley Graduate Graduate Assembly
Graduate Assembly Delegates and Projects Graduate Assembly
Getting into Grad School (GiGS) Graduate Assembly Office for Graduate Diversity
Berkeley Connect Berkeley Connect

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