Professional Development for Graduate Students at JMU


SUMMARY: Graduate students from 60 programs share their work at annual showcase.

Graduate Showcase picture

By Alyse Lehrke, Strategic Doctoral student at James Madison University

Graduate students at JMU are engaged in a variety of opportunities on and off campus that prepare them to make a difference in the world. At the annual Graduate Showcase of Scholarship and Creative Activities, students from across JMU’s 60 graduate programs gather to share their work. It’s a chance for students and faculty to learn more about streams of creativity, innovation, and research happening right here. It’s also an opportunity for graduate students to polish their presentation skills for a professional conference.

Presenting a project at a professional conference is a major milestone for many graduate students. It offers the opportunity to learn more about the work happening in their field and to network with other scholars who share similar interests. Plus, conference presentations are an important professional development experience and add impressive content to a resume. Graduate Showcase participants are invited to attend a preparation workshop offered by Dr. Paul Mabrey, a JMU alum and Communication Center Coordinator , to hone their skills even more. The Graduate Showcase serves as a platform for students to share their work with the JMU community and prepare to go global.

While the Graduate Showcase offers a once a year opportunity for graduate students to practice their professional skills, graduate students can participate in professional development all year long with events through the Cohen Center. Founded through a generous gift from the late Dr. Ralph Cohen, the Cohen Center provides ongoing professional development opportunities for graduate students through interactive workshops, expert speakers, special events, and informational resources. Cohen Center Director, Dr. Michael Klein, explained, “The Cohen Center serves as a central hub where all graduate students can learn together and engage in professionalization activities as well as experience cross-disciplinary interactions that enrich their perspectives.”

The Cohen Center, housed in the Cohen Graduate Student Professional Development Center (Grad Center) located in Madison Hall room 4000, has hosted workshops on topics like how to create a professional LinkedIn profile and how to write a resume. One roundtable discussion featured four faculty members who imparted insights on how to create a compelling conference presentation. At another event, guest scholar Dr. Kirk St.Amant shared his expertise and research in an engaging lecture. Graduate students can take advantage of these and other opportunities through the Cohen Center by attending events in person or online via live-stream on the dedicated YouTube channel.

In addition to the Graduate Showcase and Cohen Center events, the Grad Center space offers graduate students a place to meet and work together. The space is regularly used by graduate students for studying and collaborating. It is also home to the Grad N Go food sharing program facilitated by the Graduate Student Association . Whether students are presenting a project at the Graduate Showcase, participating in a Cohen Center event, or stopping by the Grad Center, they will find many ways to develop their knowledge and skills beyond the classroom. Preparing students for career success means giving them the robust tools and experiences they need to be engaged professionals.

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Published: Thursday, April 12, 2018

Last Updated: Thursday, January 23, 2020

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