Professional Competency Model

Progressive Acquisition & Mastery of Skills Creates Career Optionality

We emphasize skills that bridge graduate research & graduate future(s).
Academic Job Search Bootcamp 19
Adapted from the Lightcast Skills Taxonomy

Inspired leaders emerge at the intersection of graduate education and professional development—which is why a comprehensive learning framework underpins our work.

Alongside the development of strong foundational and discipline-specific skills, we emphasize distinguishing skills that translate universally across an array of leadership environments. This sets our Ph.D.s apart on the academic job market and prepares them for success in diverse fields—including entrepreneurship. 

We curate, integrate, and cross-promote professional development programs offered by dozens of partners on and off campus to help graduate students build and hone these skills. In addition, we deliver more than 150 programs including:

  • Skill-building
  • Interdisciplinary learning cohorts
  • Mentorship
  • Experiential opportunities

The Foundation: Eight Core Competencies

Informed by labor market research, peer benchmarking, graduate alumni feedback, and Princeton’s institutional priorities, these eight core competencies span essential skills.

Amy Aines
“What I sense is that when you're a graduate student, you feel overwhelmed by all the things on your 'I have to do this' list. However, if you really want to prepare for your future, the skills imparted through [GradFUTURES] workshops are essential. People need to think about it that way instead of thinking, 'Oh, I don't have time for it.' I've spent decades in industry, and the people who make a bigger impact are the ones who learned those vital skills, which in the past were considered ‘soft.' They're not soft, they're essential.” 

Amy AinesCEO, Damianakes Communications. Author, Championing Science

Bill Gleason
“It’s exciting to see how many new initiatives and opportunities for graduate student professional development are emerging here on campus, in communication, teaching, leadership, wellness, career management, and other crucial areas. I very much hope this programming will continue to grow."

William A. Gleason, Hughes-Rogers Professor of English and American Studies

“I have made two large transitions in my career: from academia to business, and from large corporations to start-ups. Being open to new opportunities and always looking to build on my knowledge and skills have helped me tremendously with my career progression... Developing a breadth of skills (including soft skills) will help prepare one to be able to take on a wider range of opportunities that present themselves. More choices mean more possibilities for career advancement.” 

Kin Chung *97, MAT, Head of Credit, Zolve