Derrick White: Creating your professional persona

By Derrick White.  Posted April 17, 2014.

There are multiple strategies that can be employed to help enhance professionalism and professional identity in your respected field.  I will try to touch on some strategies that could help guide you through the development process. However, the most important element is to conduct yourself in a manner that fits the aims of your mentor, institution, and peers.

  • Web persona:  When searching for a mentor, the internet is the first place to look to get a feel of what that mentor does and can offer as we journey into graduate school.  Their web persona is vital for attracting prospective students to their lab.  Believe it or not, you can do the same even if you are beginning or have just started in your graduate degree program.  Why is this important, you may ask?  When you are almost finished with your degree program and looking for a job or post doctoral position, your future employee can look you up on the internet to gain valuable information about your accomplishments as a graduate student.
  • Business card:  In graduate school it is very important to network.  Networking allows for collaborations that can be beneficial for both parties.  Some of these networking opportunities come up during conferences (regional or national), and interesting conversations can take place.  You will meet many people, and the exchange of business cards can go a long way in making sure that person remembers you and your research. 
  • Leadership roles:   Participation in organizations in your department can help with your professional development skills.  Usually the organization is very structured and you get to interact with other students that may not work in your field of interest.  This also helps hone your interpersonal skills.  Furthermore, it will help you with your organizational skills and time management to make sure you meet deadlines.

These are just few pointers that could help with your development as a professional and a graduate student.