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Professional Development by Stage of Study

According to several surveys, employers are seeking to hire professionals who possess disciplinary knowledge AND transferable skills.Transferable skills, like leadership "...can make or break a hiring decision...when employers are forced to choose between two equally qualified candidates..." (source). 

If you engage in professional development through each stage of your advanced studies, you will build a solid repertoire of skills by graduation time.

Getting Started. This is your first year as a graduate student. You are learning how to navigate the terrain of higher education and about the norms and nuances of your discipline. During this stage you will invest a great deal of energy getting acclimated to your degree program and integrating school-work-life responsibilities. 

Making Progress. Typically, during your second year you will be completing coursework. Depending on whether you are a master's, ed specialist,or doctoral student, you also may be taking exams, proposing a research study, or planning a final project, portfolio, or performance.  

Nearing Completion.  For those in research-based programs, once you reach degree candidacy, you have the utmost confidence that you will be able to persit toward degree completion. Most likely you will be collecting and analyzing data. Some students are required to submit a grant proposal or journal article. Others will be writing a thesis or dissertation chapters.

Graduation-in-Sight.  By now you are making good progress on your thesis or dissertation chapters. While you may continue to engage in in professional development activities, your time is limited. As a suggestion, during this stage you should be readying your job search documents.

Tip: if you will be pursuing an academic job, you should be applying for jobs as much as a year in advance of you desired starting date.