Professional Development

Professional development is part of the foundation of the Presidential Fellow program. Throughout the fellowship experience, each fellow is challenged to push themselves to grow. The professional development resources allow the fellows to craft a unique experience tailored to their career goals and professional interests.

The program includes:

  • placement in a professional office at the university
  • individual professional goal setting
  • work done on a core set of competencies during weekly meetings, retreats, and day-to-day experiences

After their first year, fellows undergo a 180 Assessment to identify areas of strength and improvement. Fellows are also connected to professional and peer mentors who continuously support their growth throughout the program.


The Presidential Fellowship program focuses on the development of future leaders in a wide range of disciplines. Fellows serve the GW community through their professional placements and often lead the charge for change by supporting the launch of new offices, programs, and committees throughout the university.

The placement allows fellows to directly put to use the professional development concepts reinforced in fellowship meetings and in one-on-one professional development coaching sessions. Fellows learn on the job and reflect on their development in a deliberate way that prepares them for future career success.

Professional Goal Setting

Fellows set individual goals with their preceptors through a Learning Agreement. The agreement helps fellows:

• explore their strengths and weaknesses
• set long-term career goals
• determine specific skills sets

This experience is further complemented by the Presidential Fellow conference fund, which encourages fellows to further their professional development with outside resources.


Fellows participate in the selection of the professional development curriculum each year, which focuses on top competencies for early career success. Competencies may include problem solving, creativity, and dealing with ambiguity. Other critical skills include managing up, giving constructive feedback, and clarifying expectations. 

Presidential Fellows facilitate learning discussions to explore new techniques and skills every month and practice what they learn in their placements, classrooms, and ambassadorial roles. Fellows obtain a thorough understanding of each skill area by the end of the year, giving them an advantage as they enter the workplace.


Fellows approaching their second year undergo a 180 assessment, which provides a rating for ten professional competencies. Fellows complete a self-assessment and are rated by their preceptors, colleagues, former bosses, and peers. The assessment identifies strengths and areas of improvement and coaching is provided to develop an action plan based on the feedback.