Graduate Professional Development Program Survey: Towards a National Strategy

Concordia University

General Information

Office responsible for graduate development programs:School of Graduate Studies
Contact name:Frederica Martin, Manager, Academic Programs & Development Kristy Clarke, Coordinator, GradProSkills
Name of program:GradProSkills
Social media accounts related to program:GradProSkills Coordinator (staff), Administrative Assistants (staff) and Online Communication Assistant (student position)
Who is responsible for updating information for websites?

Graduate Professional Development Programs

What sessions are available, in person or online? (workshops, webinars, blog, etc.) Workshops are offered in person. We don?t hold any webinars. We have an online blog:
Are there sessions specifically for international students?We have workshops that are of greater interest to international students, but they are not specifically targeted at international students.
Are there mentorship or internships opportunities included in the program?Every year we hire a team of approximately 15 graduate students to help run the program. The roles are: 1. Workshop leaders (developing and delivering workshops) 2. Workshop assistants (onsite set-up, troubleshooting, leader support and gathering feedback) 3. Communications assistants (assisting with our online and in person communications and outreach strategy)
What skills or competencies do the sessions focus on?In January 2016, we redefined our skills domains. Our new skill domains are: 1. Career Building: Entrepreurship; Networking; Job search; Career management; Managing your online presence. 2. Communication: Presenting; Writing; Interpersonal communication. 3. Language Training: French competency; English competency 4. Leadership and Management: Business administration; Leadership; Project management 5. Software and Web Tools: Office tools; Research tools; Creative tools; Social media; Programming tools. 6. Success in Graduate School: Conducting research; Funding; Managing relationships; Personal effectiveness; Rights and responsibilities. 7. Teaching: Teaching assistantship; Teaching methods; Teaching technology. 8. Wellness and Life Balance: Health (physical and mental); Spirituality; Personal finances; Sustainability.
List sessions by topic and identify those in highest demand.See list above. Those in highest demand are: software and web tools, French competency, leadership and management, communication (presenting and writing), networking and job search.
Who is eligible for sessions? (students, postdocs, alumni, etc.)Current Concordia graduate students (masters, doctoral, graduate certificate/diploma) and postdoctoral fellows. Graduate students who have completed their degree are able to take workshops up to two terms after completing their program.
Are professional development programs mandatory for students to graduate; or are they part of a student-supervisor checklist?No workshops are not mandatory (except in some academic misconduct rulings). Increasingly we are getting requests from students to have workshops be recognized for credit, and from professors to have workshops as part of their graduate seminars. Some professors and programs recommend particular workshops to students
Does the program offer academic credit or formal recognition (badges, certificates, etc.) to participants?We have an official GradProSkills Record of Participation. Some of our workshops offer a certificate.
Who develops and delivers the sessions? (graduate studies, other departments, students, professors, alumni, external organizations, etc.)We partner with internal and external partners to deliver 2/3 of our workshops. The remaining 1/3 are delivered by graduate students we hire to develop and deliver GradProSkills content. We have a number of professors who give workshops and who mentor our graduate student workshop leaders.
How are the sessions promoted?Mostly internal media: our website, a biweekly enewsletter to all graduate students, social media, outreach tables, department presentation, within the workshops and student ambassadors.
How do participants register? (through a centralized system or a partner company)Registration is done though our centralized Student Information System (PeopleSoft)
Is there additional cost or fees for registrants?Workshop are free but we charge a non-attendance fee ($25-135) for students who do not attend the full workshop and whom hadn?t dropped before the drop deadline (5-21 days in advance). We have considered charging fees for some workshops, but have not had to move in this direction to date. Would like to know if other universities charge fees?

Statistic Information

How many sessions run each year?More than 300 workshops are offered each year.
How many staff members are involved in administering the central sessions?Manager (50%), coordinator (100%), 2 administrative assistants (100%) plus a team of approximately 15 graduate students who work at average of 10 hours week, 10 months of the year.
What are the registration capacities and participation rates? (per each session, total enrolment, breakdown in number of students/ postdocs/alumni, breakdown by faculty etc.)From May 2015-April 2016 we offered 275 workshops of which 148 were unique. We had 5 150 participants, of which 1 811 were unique. The breakdown of participants by faculty is: 50% Engineering and Computer Science, 25% Arts and Science, 12% John Molson School of Business, 7% Fine Arts and 6% other. The breakdown of participants by program is 62% Master, 25% PhD and 13% other.
How is participation in sessions tracked? We take attendance and grade student attendance for all our workshops. We also do feedback forms at the end of every workshop. We also gather feedback from out student ambassadors though focus groups.
Is there information available to measure the effectiveness of attending sessions and securing employment after graduation?We are members of the Trace project, and would like to role this research out to other faculties and programs. A pilot evaluation project will be conducted on one of our workshop series.

Departmental Level

Do departments offer professional development programs internally? If so, which?Some PhD programs include mandatory for-credit professional development seminars. These are in engineering, business and social science disciplines.
Are there collaborative offerings between departments and the graduate professional development program office?Very limited but this is the direction we would like to move in

General Questions

Do you incorporate labor market information and outcomes into the development of specific components of graduate professional development programs? In Winter 2016 we conducted a needs assessment for the development of a series of leadership workshops. This needs assessment included interviews with more than 20 PhD alumni and employers.
Do you incorporate strategies for developing positive relationships with employers?We are growing our partnership with alumni relations, to involve alumni in workshops and special events (career panels, networking). Two alumni participate in our new advisory committee to represent the employer perspective.
Is there any additional information you would like to share?We have also discussed the possibility of offering the following initiatives, and would be curious to know if these are offered in other universities: - a student peer mentoring program - a thesis writing peer review program - training that leads to professional certification (ex. PMP)