Grad students hone professional skills

Graduate students participate in a professional development workshop in Pond Inlet.

Graduate students listen to Marilyn Rose during a professional development workshop in Pond Inlet.

The Faculty of Graduate Studies had a successful kickoff to its new series of professional skills workshops for graduate students.

About 70 graduate students attended the Nov. 2 workshop that focused on the art of communication. Other topics to be featured in the six-workshop series include:

  • handling conflict
  • working within team environments
  • dealing with diversity in the workplace
  • thinking entrepreneurially
  • managing time and projects

The workshop topics are generally accepted as “key competencies” that are vitally important to graduate students at a time when a growing number of career opportunities are being found outside the academy, said Mike Plyley, Dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies.

“At the present time, positions in the academy are not as plentiful as they once were — our students are taking very different career paths,” he said. “Now, more than ever, we have to ensure that our students, in addition to being gifted researchers and scholars, are prepared to apply their knowledge, skills and training to the workplace environments of business, industry and government.”

Plyley has recruited Professor Marilyn Rose, the former Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies, to create and lead the Brock series during her administrative leave.

“We are very pleased that Marilyn has made herself available for this new initiative,” Plyley said. “Her experience and passion for graduate education at Brock and across Ontario and Canada make her an ideal candidate to mentor and guide our students as they negotiate their future in a wide world of career opportunities.”

The Brock workshops will coincide with a similar series that Rose is designing and delivering in her role as the recently named 2011-12 Traill Visiting Fellow at Catharine Parr Traill College, the home of Trent’s School of Graduate Studies in Peterborough, Ont.

“We had an exceptional turnout for our first Brock session and there were lively discussions around the room,” said Rose. “This level of enthusiasm suggests that our graduate students see these workshops as a good starting point for developing professional skills. They recognize that organizations want to hire well-rounded individuals.”

The next workshop in the series will be held on Dec. 7, 5 to 6:45 p.m., in Pond Inlet. The topic is “Managing Conflict: What to Do When Things Come Unglued.”

Graduate students can register by contacting Stephanie McIntosh, special projects assistant, at

They may also register now for the workshops that will continue in the winter term. The workshops are as follows:

  • Jan. 11 — Effective Team Leadership: From Chaos to Creating the Conditions for Success, 4:30 to 6:45 p.m., TH 244
  • Feb. 1 — Navigating a Diversified World: Strategies for Inclusivity and Productivity, 4:30 to 6:45 p.m., Pond Inlet
  • March 7 — The Entrepreneurial Mindset: Imagining and Creating Your Own Opportunities, 4:30 to 6:45 p.m., TH 244
  • April 4 — Managing Time/Managing Projects: Sane Approaches to a Fast-Forward World, 4:30 to 6:45 p.m., Pond Inlet

Read more about the workshops

“As a new initiative, we will be inviting feedback and input from our graduate community on all aspects of this series as we want to ensure we are meeting the professional preparation needs of our students,” Plyley said.

The workshop series is part of the Faculty’s Graduate Student Professional Development (GSPD) initiative that brings together services from across the campus to support our graduate students. The GSPD is comprised primarily of Brock University faculty, graduate students and academic support units interested in promoting and developing a broad range of academic and professional skills in graduate education.

The GSPD partners include the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Education Technologies, the Graduate Students’ Association, Brock Research, Career Services, Experience Plus, James A. Gibson Library, Learning Skills Services (Student Development Centre) and International Services and Programs Abroad.

Get more information on professional development opportunities for graduate students

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