Professional Development

Professional development is part of the foundation of the PAF program. Throughout the PAF 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, PAFs undergo a 180 Assessment to identify areas of strength and improvement. PAFs are also connected to professional and peer mentors who continuously support their growth throughout the program.

Placement

The PAF program focuses on the development of future leaders in a wide range of disciplines. PAF’s 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 PAF 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.

Placements are selected or created by the fellow, can be in any department and are aligned with the individual’s interests. A preceptor, colleagues, and a professional development advisor provide mentoring throughout the placement.

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

Individual goal setting ties back to the focus of cohort learning led by the Professional Development Advisor, Sara Melita. This experience is further complemented by the PAF conference fund, which encourages PAFs to further their professional development with outside resources.

Competencies

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

PAFs 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.

Assessment

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.