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Graduate pilot project generates overwhelming response

Graduate students taking advantage of services offered through GradProSkills
November 17, 2011
By Sylvain Comeau

Few new services find success right off the bat, but GradProSkills has proven to be an exception.

Launched in mid-August, GradProSkills is a program of web resources, workshops and on-campus activities, all designed to ease the transition from graduate studies to the workplace. From day one, it has been embraced by the Concordia community.

"Since the launch, we have had more than 2,000 registrations for the 120 workshops included in the fall schedule. We've fielded 5,000 emails, and had more than 3,200 unique visitors to the website," says Laurie Lamoureux Scholes, coordinator of the Graduate and Professional Skills Working Committee, which manages the day-to-day operation of GradProSkills.

The program was originally intended for graduate students, but is now open to recent Concordia graduates. "We realized that the timing of the launch left out recent grads, so we decided to make it available to them. They are particularly interested in resources having to do with job search skills, job interviews, preparing cover letters and CVs," she says.

The program began as a way of consolidating existing Concordia resources."Previously, if grad students were looking for job skills training, they would have to sift through the content of 15 or 20 Concordia websites to see what was available. We've done that work for them, and pulled it all together on the GradProSkills web pages."

As a result, these resources have enjoyed a boost in popularity "Workshops that previously had 30 to 40 per cent attendance are now up to 60, 80, or 100 per cent." These include workshops on better research skills, organizing your thesis, and managing time and stress. The French-language training courses are particularly popular and have large waiting lists.

The emphasis is on "soft skills" — those attributes that enhance interpersonal interactions in the workplace."We are helping people acquire skills that complement the disciplinary training they receive from graduate studies. These skill sets are primarily related to communication, such as being able to take your research information and communicate the findings to your peers in the workplace, and being able to market yourself and tailor your job search strategy to your specific discipline."

Phase two of the project, which will start in January, will build on the foundation established since August. "We will be helping our partners refine their existing workshops. We are also visiting graduate program directors and asking for their input on the skill sets that their students need to enhance their graduate studies and move into the job market."

In fact, much of the evolution of phase two will be shaped by the response from the Concordia community. "We are very interested in feedback from faculty, staff and students. We want to know what kind of resources they would like to see. The feedback will give us a lot of input for continued development."

New workshops will be tailored to popular demand, including webshops and webinars, online workshops and seminars. Visitors to the web pages are encouraged to go to the feedback section. The link can be found on the top menu of the GradProSkills landing page.

While GradProSkills is a pilot project, Lamoureux Scholes is optimistic that it will become a permanent offering. She believes it will have staying power due to its broad reach and scope.

"Inclusiveness is one of the strong suits of this program. It involves all faculties and student service organizations, and the response across the board has been incredibly positive. The Concordia community has come together to make this a great resource for our graduate students, to help them connect to their future,” she says.

Related links:
•  GradProSkills
•  GradProSkills – Feedback pages
•  “New Initiative Supports Graduate Students” — NOW, August 23, 2011


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