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A different lens: graduate and postdoc development units as knowledge brokers

As knowledge brokers, graduate professional development programs can build stronger bridges between students and the skills they need.


Published by the University Affairs on May 29, 2019  

In 2017, Concordia University’s GradProSkills and McGill University’s SKILLSETS programs embarked on a pilot project to explore the ways in which they could work towards enhancing PhD students’ career management skills, which are broadly defined as the type of “skills that best enable individuals to plan and pursue life, learning and work opportunities.” As has been stated before, there is an imbalance between the number of PhD students graduating in Canada and the number of available academic positions. Stories of doctoral students who first discover the very slim likelihood of obtaining a tenure-track position at the end of their program are also far too common. Preparing students for non-academic positions involves multiple challenges, and helping individuals develop a sense of agency about planning and pursuing career and life objectives has become an important goal for many graduate professional development (GPD) programs.

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Peer learning strategies for grad student success
Lessons learned from Concordia University’s Graduate Professional Skills program.

By Frédérica Martin & Kristy Clarke                                                                                  
Published by the University Affairs on June 20 2018  

From its inception in 2011, Concordia University’s Graduate Professional Skills (GPS) program has been serious about practicing what it preaches. GPS’s mission is to provide all Concordia graduate students with opportunities to acquire a wide range of competencies that help ensure a smooth transition to the world of work. What better way to achieve this than by involving graduate students themselves in the development and delivery of the program’s services?

Each year, a new team of approximately 15 graduate students is hired to carry out the development and facilitation of learning activities, the expansion of our social media presence, and the administration and promotion of our program. The GPS staff has always strongly believed – and still believe – that by providing employment to graduate students, we are giving them the chance to work in a professional environment where they can develop important transferrable skills. Although our student employees learn from our coaching and feedback, we are well aware that a large part of their professional development is happening through peer learning, and we deliberately design our activities to leverage these reciprocal learning opportunities.

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