Professional Development Looks Different After Grad School

by Amanda Stewart

I definitely took my graduate school years for granted. Between the stress of reading and writing (SO MUCH), an assistantship in student activities that required late nights, practicums, a partner who lived 2 hours away during my 2nd year, and (somewhat) of a social life - I forgot to really, take for granted all of the encouraged professional development that surrounded me.

It Does Exist
Without the pressures of homework assignment deadlines, or the ability to say things like “I want to try this because I’m a grad student and I want the experience…” or, “I’m writing a paper on [insert awesome topic here] and I was wondering if I could hear your story….” it can feel like professional develop ends after graduate school. (Not to mention that increase in price once you become a professional is rough!) I’m here to tell you that professional development does still exist after graduate school, you just have to make an effort to go out and get it.

It Just Looks Different
Professional development for me, doesn’t come from an assignment from a faculty member that tells me to have certain conversations with my supervisor anymore. It comes from seeking those conversations out. It might not mean that your direct supervisor is the person you have these conversations with, maybe it’s someone from another department.

It Can Also Come From Social Media
I’m a big believer in social media and how it can connect others. My involvement in The Niche Movement (follow us on snapchat - nichemovement) started from a tweet that I saw a few years ago. I met one of my closest friends-I’ve-never-met on Twitter (hey, Alice!). I get a lot of running and yoga inspiration from Instagram. I find there to be a lot of value in connecting with people through social sites. Someone will tweet an article and I’ll read it and it will spark something that I want to discuss with my office. #SAchat conversations make me feel current with the SA community as well as challenge my thinking. Professional development might look a bit different, but it can be happening through all sorts of mediums.

Don’t Stop Learning

Seek out opportunities all over the place. Volunteer. Join committees. Try new things that are out of your comfort zone. (I’m starting a 100 day challenge on April 17th where I’m going to try something new everyday! Join me or follow along on Twitter/Insta @mandijstewart #the100dayproject ) The learning doesn’t stop just because grad school is over and even though I know this, I have to remind myself every day to get out there and keep challenging myself.

Student Affairs - the First Years

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