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New initiative supports graduate students

Initiative helps Concordia graduate students acquire professional skills.
August 23, 2011
By Karen McCarthy

Supporting graduate students and post-doctoral fellows make the transition from academia to the workforce is behind a new initiative called GradProSkills — a comprehensive web resource of workshops, online tools and on-campus activities.

“The program responds to an increased demand by employers who expect graduate students and post-doctoral fellows to have a broad range of skills when they enter the workforce,” explains Laurie Lamoureux Scholes, a doctoral candidate in Concordia’s Department of Religion. Some of these skills include communicating effectively, managing projects, and leading effective teams.

Lamoureux Scholes is also the Coordinator of the Graduate and Professional Skills working committee, which is responsible for the day-to-day operation of GradProSkills. This includes organizing the suite of workshops, developing and maintaining the website, and liaising with more than 20 on-campus and external partners. Graduate students and post-doctoral fellows from each Faculty are represented on the working committee.
Workshops are offered in 10 professional skills domains, including leadership, research management, teaching and knowledge transfer, strategic communications and language training. These skills domains were selected based on consultations with post-doctoral fellows and recommendations by the Canadian Association for Graduate Studies and National Postdoctoral Association, and research on advanced training needs for entry into the professional workforce.

In addition, there are graduate training workshops, designed to help individuals develop the skills needed to balance work, studies and personal responsibilities. Topics include writing, communication, job search, stress and time management, TA and teaching, thesis and research, and funding. Professional development workshops are offered in communication and networking, job search, and research and management. Workshops are free; however, there are fees for non-attendance.

Through the GradProSkills record, students can maintain an online record of all their completed workshops. Graduate students and post-doctoral fellows also have the ability to create their own “toolkit”. The “build your toolkit” function on the website allows individuals to search available resources to find learning events that meet their unique needs.

“The reality is that graduate students and post-doctoral fellows are also looking to expand their professional toolkits by developing skills that complement their disciplinary training,” explains Graham Carr, Dean of Graduate Studies. In fact, the program was initiated by a steering committee whose members included Carr as well as Carole Brabant, Associate Vice-President, Strategy and Operations and Acting Director of the Office of Research; Olivier Dyens, Vice-Provost, Teaching and Learning; and Bradley Tucker, Director, Institutional Planning and Analysis.

Related links:
•   GradProSkills Orientation, September 9
•   GradProSkills program

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