Monday Motivation #113 (7/25/22)
I spent the weekend at the Brody Cafe, teaching 15 visitors from around the US how to conduct training workshops using curriculum materials I’ve helped develop as part of an NSF workforce development grant. The curriculum focuses on building professional skills (Communications, Teamwork, Leadership) in the context of interdisciplinary work in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) fields. Of course, learning to be a facilitator of these professional development workshops is, in itself, another type of professional development. So we spent a lot of time pausing for “meta” moments: discussing what we were experiencing and learning, and how we might translate that into teaching in ways that would benefit our future participants.
It was a fun, productive (and very long!) weekend, and a welcome return to in-person trainings after 2.5 years of teaching these professional skills courses primarily online. The rest of this week, I’m participating in professional development activities through the MSU Educational Technology Summit. This is a series of live, virtual sessions designed to explore how different types of technology can enhance teaching and learning (https://d2l.msu.edu/d2l/home/1735897). Over the last couple of years of mostly-remote work, I’ve learned that I gain more from online trainings when I have a specific goal in mind — so this week I’m also revising my course syllabi for the upcoming semester, with the goal of incorporating what I learn this week to improve students’ experiences in my classrooms this fall.
This week, I’m offering ideas and resources for figuring out what types of professional development might have a positive impact at different points in your graduate studies and careers.
Three Things to Try This Week
Understand Why — when you’re deep in the midst of research and coursework, it can be hard to make time for building the professional skills essential to life outside of academia. But the vast majority of engineering graduate students end up pursuing “off campus” careers, and knowing how to navigate a corporate interview or budget meeting can be important factors in career success. This article summarizes some of the strongest reasons for including professional development in your graduate studies.
Understand What — knowing that professional skills are important is, well, important! But which skills matter most? While required technical skills can vary a lot based on discipline and job description, there are some core professional skills that almost every engineer should cultivate.
Understand How — making a plan for building professional skills during graduate school can help ensure that you are well-prepared for success once you earn your diploma. Creating an IDP (individual development plan) is one way to assess your strengths, identify gaps in knowledge and skills, and make a plan to acquire the information and training you need. Learn more about the value of an IDP here.
- The College of Engineering offers a variety of professional development courses for graduate students; this fall the options include CMSE 890 005 (professional skills); EGR 891 002 (technical writing); EGR 893 001 (experiential education); and EGR 993 001 (dissertation/thesis writing). Sign up for fall classes at https://student.msu.edu
- The MSU Graduate School offers professional development in a variety of areas, including career preparation. Check out the list of upcoming events here: https://grad.msu.edu/events?field_events_category_tid%5B%5D=39&items_per_page=All
- The MSU WorkLife Office is hosting a webinar on August 10 from 1–2pm about “Budget and Debt Management: Helpful Basic Tips and Reminders.” Learn more and register here: https://msu.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_uj9qUVtoTOa2jYjSFIjYVQ