Who doesn’t love a good professional development opportunity? As student affairs professionals, we are always looking for ways to better ourselves for our students and as a new professional, there is plenty of time to do just that. professional development as a new professional in graduate school is another story. Between classes, papers, assistantships, internships, and everyday life, how can a busy graduate student fit in good professional development?
Being a graduate student means fitting professional development into a hectic schedule. Which in turn, means getting creative with time.
If you have an assistantship or internship, folding professional development into what you are already doing is a great first step. Taking on another task is a perfect way to get in some good development. Always ask your supervisor how you can take that extra step or if you can add something to your position. Make sure to come with ideas to your supervisor to show your commitment!
Utilizing time off is another way to work around a packed schedule as a graduate student. Finding webinars to attend or do during winter break one idea to work professional development into graduate school. Take a break from binge watching and get some professional development time in! Summer is a perfect time to do an extra internship or attend a conference when you don’t have to worry about getting back to for a class or finding time to do a project.
After finally finding time, now the struggle is finding the best professional development for yourself. Many graduate students come into a master’s program looking to explore and find their place in the expansive field of student affairs. With so many options, it may be hard to target the best opportunities for development! Looking for opportunities that allow you a wide range of options such as a conference is a good place to start. That way, you can attend multiple sessions and try out new areas that peak your interest and get the most out of the opportunity, especially if it is your only one. Instead of pinpointing what your interests are, ruling out what you know you do not like may be easier. This can help target associations to check out or key search words in articles to avoid. If you are not an orientation person, then looking at opportunities from NODA may not be the best place to look.
A key to professional development as a graduate is finding an assistantship or internship that pays for the professional development. While not every assistantship comes with professional development funds, it is always OK to inquire and see what you can ask from your department funds wise or opportunities wise that will not cost you anything. If you are still in the graduate school search or even the first job search asking about funds for professional development is important. Paying for opportunities can add up quickly. Paying for less means being able to do more.
In the end, it is important to turn any professional development into what you want. Reading articles, attending conferences, leading an alternative spring break trip, and joining an association are just some of the ways to get professional development as a graduate student, but it doesn’t stop there. Exploring and making the time in your program what you want it to be sets up your future. Good professional development can set you set you up to excel in areas and build a solid foundation for your future career.