Home » Professional Development on a Graduate School Budget

Professional Development on a Graduate School Budget

Between Ed Cabellon‘s clarion call for #sagrow students to describe their professional development needs and aspirations and a conversation I had earlier this week with some of the first year Graduate Hall Directors at A&M about “getting tapped into Student Affairs ‘hot topics’,” I thought it might be helpful to centralize a post with some suggestions about professional development with little to no budget.

Sign up for daily digest emails, and commit time during your office hours to reading them. Inside Higher Ed,  The Chronicle, and StudentAffairs.com all have great digests with a lot of resources packed into it, but shop around, there are some great ones. This year, I am working in an Engingeering Living Learning Community, so to better serve my students, I have subscribed to a few with an Engineering focus to better understand innovation in their field and stay abreast of current debates and conversations potentially taking place in their classes.  Think about your students, and take advantage of ListServs and newsletters when you find them!

Ask your supervisor about institutional professional Association memberships. Some Institutions or Departments will purchase institutional membership to professional associations, which will allow you all the benefits of a personal membership to a Professional Association, including discounts on conferences, webinars, as well as tangibles such as magazines or journals.

As an aside, many professional associations have a graduate student rate or discount for a membership, or scholarships available to attend webinars or conferences.  Never hurts to give member services a quick call!

Use an RSS feed reader. What is an RSS feed reader, you ask?  RSS readers provide an easy way to compile information posted onto a variety of different source websites in one place for easy access. This way you don’t need to visit a myriad of websites to get information as their newest content all shows up with just one login.  As Associations become more intentional about their presence in online spaces, following their RSS feed means you’ll see the latest content, information, and trends around their focus.

I recommend Feedly, but there are several available, including a version that is built right into your Outlook account if you’re inclined to read mostly during work hours.

Eric Stoller shared a great post a while back about using RSS feeds to job search as another way to utilize RSS feeds for professional development.  After all, you’re in grad school to get a job, right?

Follow topics for professional development on Twitter and through other forms of social media. Of course, and to no surprise of my cohort, I have to plug some Social Media uses for professional development. First, think about your presence and purpose in these spaces, and set up accounts to watch and listen.  Set up a Social Media management tool such as TweetDeck or HootSuite to follow topics and #hashtag searches more easily through Twitter.

Check out a list of current Student Affairs Twitter hashtags here, and a collection of Student Affairs Twitter chats here.  Did you know that there is a weekly chat about student affairs on twitter known as #sachat?  And even better yet, you can look back through the archives and get a pulse for what professionals said about a number of topics from the context of their background and campus? But that’s not all! Not surprisingly, many NASPA knowledge communities, causes, and higher ed groups have a group or page presence on Facebook.  Do some searching and take advantage of the benefits to being more connected and “in the loop” with what’s happening regarding topics facing students and our profession most interesting to you!

Listen to podcasts and watch live web shows. HigherEd Live heveral great Video/Podcasts that will connect you to variety of topics related to student affairs and higher education, and provide you with opportunities to hear from practitioners facing these issues everyday.  They do their research and have some great dialogue, and often allow you the opportunity to engage in dialogue about what’s happening in the field from the comfort of your living room.

Utilize your library network. Stop into the help desk at your University library and speak with a subject library, or take a look on their website to explore the various resources they have available.  Often they are willing to look out for topics for you, have materials waiting for you, and even help you to best utilize the resources available to students.  This will make your paper prep time more productive and focused on the research topic itself rather than wandering aimlessly or searching all over the internet for info!

I hope this post provided some insight and direction to get you connected to the many free resources available to you as you begin your first papers, projects, or just in general as you begin to delve into learning more about Student Affairs.

What are your favorite free professional development resources?

(1.28.2016 Edit) I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention EAB.com as another resource for grad students who are interested in finding best practices around a number of topics related to higher education, especially because they sign my check– if your institution is a member of any of the EAB research forums, you can use your University email address to register for an account– you can also sign up for the EAB Daily Briefing for a roundup of higher ed news curated with commentary to stay up to date with today’s trending topics.