Episode #23

What Academics Get Wrong about Professional Development

Have you ever done professional development? So often, it feels like academics get professional development wrong. Usually, it’s done with a one-off training, but the problem is that there’s no follow through or follow up. There’s no relationship with the leader or the participants. 


I want to help transform professional development for academic women. I’ve been in academia since 1998, and in all those years, I don’t remember any content from one-off trainings. Instead, I remember the relationships I developed along the way. 

In this episode I’m talking about good professional development and the benefits that come from combining training, coaching and community. 

“The way you are going to change your professional life is through the development of relationships, not through training or teachings you receive.”



One-off trainings sound appealing because we think that if we just know a certain skill, we’ll be able to change the way we integrate writing into our career. In my coaching programs, the content of the training portion is based on a few key takeaways from my past career trajectory: 

  1. You have to have clarity. You have to be clear on what you want to do so you can take action.
  2. Control and how to step in to power and direct your career. You also need to have clarity on your boundaries.



Coaching is ultimately about relationships, and how it can influence and change your professional direction. You are in a relationship with your coach.

Teaching and coaching are different; teaching involves passing info from one person to another. 

The job of a coach is to ask the right questions that lead people to figure out what they need to do themselves. It is not about the coach and their experiences, but walking someone through a process of transformation. You want your coach to take your unique situation into account, and develop a plan of action for you.



Community is the secret sauce, but unfortunately there is a lack of community in academia. Once you have your tenure track job, it can be very difficult to create community. A community solves a few problems:

  1. The onus of implementing what you’ve learned is not solely on you. If you find implementation difficult, you can get feedback from your community.
  2. Brings together diverse groups of women who can support each other.  This includes diversity on every level such as diversity of institution and types of positions.
  3. Stops you from feeling isolated
  4. Provides you with source of information you wouldn’t otherwise be able to tap into 
  5. Adds accountability from those who understand and support you

“If you think back to your career to those pivotal moments, they will be moments in relationship with other people.”


Coaching Programs

There are several ways we can work together to achieve your goals: 

Amplify: Faculty Writing Accelerator program is for pre tenure women on the tenure track. This year-long program offers training and support through coaching and community as you implement what you learn.

Our NEW program has launched! Uplevel your post-tenure career with Elevate. This program is for post tenure women, and it is a 6 month coaching program that follows the training- coaching-community model. 

Mark your calendars for May, because The Academic Women’s Writing Roadmap course is reopening! This 10-week program teaches you how to make time to write. Topics include writing systems, time management, project management, creating a pipeline for your writing, and creating short and long term plans.


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