Career & Professional Development

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT FOR WESTERN GRADUATE STUDENTS

The School of Graduate Studies seeks to help students achieve their professional potential both in and out of the classroom. Because this enduring task must be tailored to, and work for, a wide array of backgrounds and needs, the School of Graduate Studies has assembled a menu of resources. In addition, the School of Graduate Studies sponsors regular seminars covering a range of topics all intended to help students on their diverse professional journeys. Our students can partake in the School of Graduate Studies Career & Professional Development Seminars on campus or remotely.

Our 2019-20 career and professional development seminar series is under development. Please contact graduatestudies@western.edu to suggest your topics!

Types of Funding

1. Funds for Scholarly Travel

These funds support individual graduate students invited to attend or present their research or work at a conference or meeting by covering the cost of registration, lodging, meals and/or transportation. The maximum grant is typically $500.  Preference is given to students in programs with limited financial resources for this type of activity and to students whose work is not already supported by a faculty research grant that may provide similar funding support.  

Requests are reviewed three times per year, according to the following deadlines:

  • Sept. 1: for travel during September through December
  • Dec. 1: for travel during January through June
  • June 1: for summer travel during July and August  

All available funds are normally allocated during each review period, and therefore requests received after the deadlines are not usually considered. However, if funds remain for that funding period, late requests may be considered.

2. Professional Development Travel Funds

This fund supports individual graduate students who wish to attend professional development workshops or programs of a professional interest that are not venues for the students to present their own research or scholarly work. Maximum grant is typically $500.

Requests are reviewed three times per year, according to the following deadlines:

  • Sept. 1: for travel during September through December
  • Dec. 1: for travel during January through June
  • June 1: for summer travel during July and August  

All available funds are normally allocated during each review period, and therefore requests received after the deadlines are not usually considered. However, if funds remain for that funding period, late requests may be considered.

3. Funding for Interdisciplinary Symposia, Seminars and Workshops

This fund supports groups of students who wish to organize symposia, seminar series and workshops. The maximum grant is typically $2,000. The fund’s intent is to encourage student-initiated events that enrich the Western graduate student experience by providing opportunities to present ideas and research to audiences across disciplines. Students should participate as presenters, speakers and moderators, as well as organizers. Successful proposals might include, for example, symposia that expose the work of graduate students to groups outside the University, workshops that bring faculty and students from other campuses to interact with Western students on a focused topic, or works-in-progress colloquia. Preference will be given to interdisciplinary programs that provide students the opportunity to engage with others outside their discipline.  

Proposals are reviewed twice per year: Dec. 1 for events occurring in January through June, and in September for events occurring in September through December. 

4. Funding for Professional Development Initiatives

This fund supports graduate programs and groups of students in receiving professional development through their own initiatives. Maximum grant is typically $2,000. The fund’s intent is to encourage graduate programs and students to pursue professional development experiences that will enrich the student experience and prepare students for careers after graduate study. Funds may be used for programming and events that fill a professional development need not currently met through the department or other campus resources. Proposal could include, for example, industry networking events, alumni panels on careers, and group workshops on transferable skill development. 

Awards may be used to fund:

• Honoraria and/or travel costs for guest speakers
• Operational costs (refreshments, food, room and equipment rental, etc.)
• Publicity and/or printing

Proposals are reviewed twice per year: Submit applications by Dec. 1 for events occurring in January through June, and by Sept. 1 for events occurring in September through December.

5. Dean’s Impact Award

The intention of the Dean’s Impact Award is to encourage graduate student scholarship and service that enhances the campus and/or local community through exemplary research, leadership, creation of an event or program, or other significant community or campus contribution. Awardees should demonstrate:

  • Creativity and innovation to start or deepen efforts to address community issues
  • Long-term leadership that inspires others to engage
  • Tangible and meaningful impact on campus or community
  • Effort to integrate their work into campus structures in a sustainable way

The maximum award is $2,000.  Proposals are reviewed twice per year: submit proposals by Dec. 1 for projects occurring in January through June, and by June 1 for projects occurring in July through December.

Application Procedures

Applying for Travel Funds

Proposals should be submitted to Cassie Mason (cmason@western.edu) by 5:00 p.m. on the day of the submission deadline. Proposal documents should be submitted as a single PDF file and must include the following:

a. Summary Page (attached below). This form requires the signatures of your graduate advisor/mentor and program director.

b. Narrative. Briefly describe (not to exceed one page in length) the purpose of the travel and the benefits to you and/or the graduate program.

c. Budget. Please include a detailed budget. The budget must include all expenses and include other sources of funding subsidizing your activity. The amount and the source of available matching or in-kind contributions must be documented.

Applying for a Dean’s Impact Award

Proposals should be submitted to Cassie Mason (cmason@western.edu) by 5:00 p.m. on the day of the submission deadline. Proposal documents should be submitted as a single PDF file and must include the following:

a. Summary: Summary of your research and its impact on the campus, community and/or region. No more than ½ page.

b. Project description: No more than 3 pages. Address your project description to an audience of reviewers who may not be familiar with your field. Clearly explain the importance of your project. Your description should include all appropriate details necessary for judging the quality of your endeavor. Depending upon your discipline, this may include methodology, experimental design, research protocols, data collection, human subjects approvals or photographs of artistic work. Describe the timeline and current status of your project. If your research project is part of a collaborative effort or long-term, ongoing endeavor with other partners, explain your exact contribution to the project. 

c. Impact statement: No more than two pages. Describe how your project or endeavor addresses a compelling issue, problem or need for campus, community or region. Clearly explain the impact or benefit of your project to the issue you are addressing.

d. One recommendation letter from the faculty advisor for this project or other appropriate contact.

e. Budget. Please include a detailed budget. The budget must include all expenses and include other sources of funding subsidizing your activity. The amount and the source of available matching or in-kind contributions must be documented.

Applying for Funding for Professional Development Initiatives or Interdisciplinary Symposia, Seminars, and Workshop

Proposals submitted to Cassie Mason (cmason@western.edu) by 5:00 p.m. on the day of the submission deadline. Proposal documents should be submitted as a single PDF file and must include the following:

1. Description and Event Details
  • Provide a description of the proposed program(s) or event(s).
  • Include plans for timing of events, location and number of graduate students likely to participate. Explain what successful event attendance would look like for this type of program (e.g., number of graduate students attending, number of faculty attending, graduate programs represented, how distance students will be served, etc.).
  • Provide a marketing plan for the event or series.
2. Key Personnel
  • Name those individuals who will be responsible for planning and logistics of the program or event, and indicate their roles in the process.
  • Identify any other campus partners or resources that may be useful in making the event successful.
3. Need and Impact
  • Explain the need for the event and the intended impact on graduate student professional development or academic experience.
  • Identify existing programming and resources the program currently provides to support graduate students.
  • Explain the potential for long-term impact beyond the award period.
4. Budget
  • Include a detailed budget for how funds will be spent.
  • List other anticipated sources of funding for the program.
5. Interdisciplinarity
  • Will the program(s) be open to students from more than one department/program?
  • If so, how will events be marketed to students across programs/departments?
6. Assessment
  • How will you measure the event/series’ success? (Examples: total number of attendees, proportion of department faculty attending, an average evaluation rating of at least 4 on a 5-point Likert scale, etc.)
  • All events/series funded by this grant should include participant evaluation feedback. Include the evaluation instrument you will use.  

Download Travel Grant Application

A resume is the unique professional summary you will build upon your whole life. Employers read it to evaluate your experience, skills and achievements. The primary goal of your document is to communicate why you are qualified for the position you are seeking.

Where to start?

  1. Brainstorm: Focus on your experiences that are most relevant to the position: work, internships, practicum, academic, research, project-based, extra-curricular and leadership-based.
  2. Format: Craft a one-page document unless you exceed five years of professional work experience. Do not be tempted by the convenience of a template or wizard! Start with a blank Word document and build your resume line-by-line. Assume a clean, consistent look: 10-12 point font, 0.75”-1” margins all around.
  3. Content: Use action verbs to grab the reader’s attention. Avoid passive language, such as “duties include.” Quantify and qualify your experiences to convey the complexity of tasks. Include accomplishment statements that demonstrate the results of your efforts. Avoid clichés and vague or empty descriptors. Include relevant master degree coursework, thesis title, publications, student assistantships, internships, course project work and examples of leadership. Include relevant professional associations and certification
  4. Heading: Your heading will contain your name and basic contact information. An email address and contact number are standard. Mailing address has long been a resume staple, but in the era of digital communications, it is increasingly common not to include a postal address. You may also include a link to your LinkedIn profile or online portfolio. This heading should match exactly the heading on your cover letter and reference sheet.
  5. Categories: Three to five is the norm. EDUCATION (at top), WORK EXPERIENCE, LEADERSHIP, SKILLS. You will list your experiences in each category in reverse chronological order. Within each job, you will author three to five relevant bullets in descending order of importance. Consider beginning with a scoping sentence—your 10,000-foot view of your role.
  6. Visit the Resume Checklist at western.edu/career-services

Your cover letter invites the hiring committee to read your resume and tells them why you are the best person for the position. It also may cover high-level information or relevant specifics that you might want to give extra attention.

  1. Compose: Prepare to write your cover letter by highlighting aspects of a job description you are qualified to perform. Jot down examples of work, volunteering, coursework, etc. Tell a story that shows how you match the job requirements.
  2. Format: Use the same header, font and margins as your resume. Use formal salutations. Single space paragraphs with a double space in between are recommended. One page is usually sufficient. 
  3. Content: Consider a three- to five-paragraph letter with an introduction that connects you to the reader, middle paragraphs that feature experiences that match what the employer is seeking and a closing paragraph that indicates how you will contribute.
  4. Tone: Adopt a tone that mirrors the organization’s culture. Highlight strengths without embellishing.
  5. Proof: Print, check and read your letter out loud. Have at least two peers read your cover letter and resume for errors.
  6. More Helpful Links

LinkedIn [dropped the all-caps, toggle tag]

Build a great LinkedIn profile to network and build your professional brand. LinkedIn has created targeted videos, handbooks and one-sheets just for students.