As student affairs professionals, we are always looking for ways to better ourselves for our students. As a new professional, there is plenty of time to do just that. Professional development as a graduate student is another story.
Being a graduate student means fitting professional development into a hectic schedule and getting creative with time. If you have an assistantship or internship look for professional development in what you are already
doing. Taking on another task or adding to take a task you’re already doing is a perfect way to get in good development. Always ask your supervisor before adding anything. Utilizing time off is another way to work around a packed schedule. Finding webinars to attend during winter break and using the summer to attend a conference are great ways to use time off.
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. For those students, looking for opportunities that allow you a wide range of options, such as a conference, is a good idea. It is a way to attend multiple sessions, try out new areas, and get the most out of the opportunity. Another way is to rule out areas that you know you do not like. This can help target associations to check out or key search words in articles to avoid.
The key to professional development as a graduate student is finding a position that pays for the professional development. While not every position comes with professional development funds, it is always okay to inquire. See what you can get from your department that won’t 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.
In the end, it is important to turn any professional development into what you want it to be.
Exploring and making the time in your program what you want it to be sets up your future. Good professional development can set you up to excel and build a solid foundation for your future career.