All UofA students entering a graduate program as of Fall 2016 are required by FGSR to complete the Professional Development Requirement, including an Individual Development Plan.
Whether or not your future career will be in academia, you should definitely work with your supervisor to ensure that both your coursework and your thesis research are geared toward the specific field you wish to enter: doing so will make it clear to employers or PhD admissions committees that you are well-prepared for the professional direction you wish to pursue. This may mean choosing elective courses from a particular department, directing your thesis research toward a topic relevant to your future career, presenting papers at certain professional conferences, etc. Your supervisor will best understand how to help you prepare for a PhD program and an academic career or directly into another profession instead.
We have a very strong professional development component in our department—both EASIA 598 and 575 are essentially professional development courses, and six of your eight required hours will be deemed complete through successful completion of these two courses. However, to meet the eight hour requirement, you must do two other hours of professional development training.
There are many such opportunities available on campus, either through FGSR, CaPS, or other university units. One of the most important opportunities is FGSR’s Graduate Teaching and Learning (GTL) program, which offers three different levels of certification. Anyone who is considering a career in education (whether at the university level or otherwise), or who has funding through teaching assistantship work, should register for the GTL program, since it provides essential basic training on how to conduct a class, design curricula and assignments, test and grade, handle problem students, and so on. Otherwise, any eligible PD session is acceptable.
To complete this requirement, choose a minimum of 2 hours of professional development sessions. Then, fill in the Individual Development Plan & Professional Development Completion Form and have your supervisor sign off. Once you submit the form to the Graduate Advisor, Andrea Hayes (email@example.com) via email or in person at Arts 200-G, she will get the Associate Chair, Graduate's signature and note the completion of the requirement in your file.