Getting Experience

Your most important professional development experiences in graduate school are the activities you’re already engaged in: coursework, research, and teaching. But there are additional activities that will help give you an edge in your chosen career path(s). Some of the most useful “extra” experiences to engage in include:


Internships are not just for undergraduates; they can also be important experiences for doctoral students in fields ranging from science and engineering to humanities and social sciences. Depending on your field, there are a variety of advertised and unadvertised internship opportunities at the graduate level. A great way to find out about unadvertised internships is to reach out to contacts in your network, including your department, LinkedIn, and professional societies. Also take advantage of the MSU Summer Job & Internship Fair to meet employers and talk about potential opportunities for doctoral students.

A handful of the existing internship programs for graduate students includes:

Additional Coursework & Certifications

In addition to your core coursework and training, there are numerous institutes, courses, and certifications offered at MSU. Many of these opportunities give you direct preparation for one or more of your potential career paths. Some opportunities for you to consider are:

Leadership & Service

Leadership, service, and volunteer work are not only ways of getting experience in your chosen career path, but also activities that promote broader career and professional development. As a graduate student, you have a variety of opportunities to cultivate leadership skills and engage in the wider community. Some opportunities especially relevant for graduate student professional development include:

  • International Speakers Program- Public speaking and outreach activities for international students
  • Becoming involved in national or international disciplinary societies
  • Taking on a leadership role in your research lab or research team
  • Substitute teaching in local primary and secondary schools
  • Serving on committees in your department, college, or the university
  • Participating in student groups, e.g. becoming a COGS (Council of Graduate Students) rep for your department
  • Serving on the board of local nonprofit
  • Volunteering in local non-profits and charities


MSU is full of entrepreneurs! From faculty to graduate students to undergrads, the campus is teeming with people implementing new ideas. If you would like to join campus conversations about entrepreneurship, you can start by checking out these resources:

Are you an international student interested in entrepreneurship? You’re not alone! According to a Global Detroit initiative, immigrants are 1.89 times as likely as non-immigrants to start a business in the US and 15.8 percent of all Michigan businesses started between 1996 and 2007 were started by an immigrant. Resources and opportunities for networking are available at the Global Detroit website.

Many online communities also exist for entrepreneurs and innovators, such as HASTAC: Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaborators.

Additional Resources

  • The Center for Language Teaching Advancement (CELTA): focuses on providing support for language teaching and learning, including professional development opportunities, graduate certificates, international teaching internships, co- and extra-curricular activities, models for articulation and integration of language and culture, technology solutions, and language assessment. CELTA also offers co-curricular and outreach activities: service learning experiences for language students creating awareness in the community about the importance of language learning and cross-cultural competence. Click here to learn more.
  • Professional Development Experience for Language Teachers