University of Wisconsin–Madison

Professional Development

Professional development doesn’t have to involve formal, structured classes or programs. Informal learning can be just as powerful as formal training. Start by identifying the skills you’d like to develop, then use this guide to consider the professional development options that best fit your current needs.

  • Volunteer for a project you might otherwise avoid due to skill level – use the opportunity to learn while at work.
  • Join committees/groups in your department or in your private life to build communication, leadership, and other essential skills.
  • Talk to your supervisor about your goals; discuss upcoming projects or opportunities to build a skill.
  • Read about new developments in your current field or a field of interest.
  • Take on new challenges in your current position. Look for projects and long- or short-term assignments.
  • Connect to University networks to find a professional mentor – someone who can help you identify skills to build and offer guidance. Academic Staff Mentoring Committee; Mentoring and Network Programs (you will need scroll down to find info on these programs)
  • Join a professional organization related to your interests. Attend meetings, workshops, and conferences offered by the organization. Join the board or committees within the organization. Help coordinate events.
  • Join a Community of Practice in your field of interest to find support and resources that might be beneficial.
  • Pay attention to conferences – these can be great opportunities for informal training and to connect with potential mentors who can help support your career goals. UW–Madison Campus Conference Schedule

There are a variety of financial resources available to UW–Madison employees for professional development offerings.

Learn more about policy regarding support for employee learning and development.


On-the-job experiences

  • Observing others
  • Undertaking special projects
  • Keeping a record of learning experiences
  • Taking on higher duties
  • Job rotations
  • Seeking feedback on specific tasks
  • Site visits
  • Stretch projects
  • Past-project reviews


Interactions with others

  • Seeking feedback from direct reports, peers or a critical friend
  • Professional groups online
  • Participate in special interest forums or meetings
  • Mentoring
  • Communities of practice
  • Team projects
  • Seek out industry contacts
  • Job Shadows
  • Attend networking events


Formal professional development

  • UW–Madison course offerings
  • External course offerings
  • Conferences
  • Reading
  • Online programs

LinkedIn Learning

Available at no cost to all UW–Madison employees, LinkedIn Learning offers several career management and job search courses! Look for the LinkedIn Learning tile in your MyUW portal and log in using your NetID and password. Once you are logged in, search using the phrase “Career Development” to find over 300-related courses. For more information, view the LinkedIn Learning FAQ KB page

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