Bite-Sized Career Development

In my day job, I manage professional development programs. And in that field the trend has moved to offering bite-sized training. Appetizers, if you will. Rather than committing someone to a full three-course meal (or more!) of training, we know adults learn best when single-tasked and focused, and in smaller chunks, particularly as we get bombarded with more and more information.

This applies really well to graduate school training too.

I’ve already been clear that graduate schools need to integrate and begin requiring career development as part of their curriculum. And by making these activities bite-sized, graduate schools could take this on with relatively little stress on the faculty to revamp existing discipline-focused courses. Faculty would still have to rethink how to compress their content into a tighter semester timeline, but given the necessity of preparing grad students better and faster, that’s inevitable anyway.

Some schools are already doing this. I know undergraduate programs that are. For instance, some colleges have adopted alternate scheduling, where the first (or last) 3 weeks of a semester are dedicated to a single course, during which students take on a single short-term professional internship or project, and the remaining 12 weeks are reserved for the standard multiple-course semester.

This is a perfect model for graduate schools to adopt. They could use the 3 weeks to offer modular topics like career planning, career exploration, CV-to-resume writing, interviewing skills, and so on, without any additional time to graduate. Alternatively, those 3 week intensive courses could be allocated like they are for undergraduates – to one professional internship or project. Giving them a similar opportunity to take on a campus job, even for the short-term adds to their “real world” work experience, exposes them to alternative careers to consider, and forces them to draw upon transferable skills.

Is your school considering this? Doing it already? What are your thoughts? Let me know on Twitter.

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