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Practical Professional Skills Workshop Series

Sponsored by the Center for Inclusive Education, the Graduate School, and the IREP Office

Practical Professional Skills is a new, interactive series is designed to promote dialogue around key issues affecting today’s professionals. The goal of this series is to provide graduate students and postdocs with a meaningful orientation on the following four topics: navigating complex organizations, time and energy management, building and maximizing professional relationships, and strategic professional growth.



FLyerPractical Professional Skills 1: Schmooze or Lose: How to Thrive in Social Settings, Nov 1, 4pm

Social settings often intimidate otherwise accomplished adults. This interactive program will address introductions, handshakes, small talk, gender differences, and a host of Miserable Moments – forgetting names, breaking into a group, alcohol protocol, among others.

Participants will have an opportunity to practice these skills, and will learn tips for following up with new contacts.

Lunch will be provided.

When: November 1, 2016, 4:00pm-6:00pm

Where: Wang Center Room 201


Mary M. Mitchell
President of The Mitchell Organization
Mary M. Mitchell helps individuals to be more professional so that they can expand their careers. She is the author of 9 books, now in 11 languages. She is an experienced coach, syndicated newspaper columnist, and certified Zumba instructor.

Visit her website at


FLyerPractical Professional Skills 2: Building Your Brand, Apr 4, 9am

In this session, Alfreda will provide tips and insight into how you can best present yourself as an academic and/or research professional. Learn the various ways you can communicate your experience and knowledge in your field, in order to make yourself a more competitive applicant in your career search. 

Breakfast will be served.

When: April 4, 2017, 9:00am-10:00am

Where: Center for Inclusive Education, 2401 Old Computer Science


Alfreda James 
Assistant Director for Graduate Students and Postdocs, Career Center

Alfreda S. James, PhD, specializes in counseling graduate students about career options. Her professional experience includes teaching a career exploration class, creating innovating programs for professional development, and devising workshops for students. Alfreda is a member of the Graduate Career Consortium, a network of career education professionals who advise graduate students. She completed her PhD in American History on the activities of free African American women in abolition societies. She is a writer for the Carpe Careers column appearing in InsideHigherEd. 

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FLyerPractical Professional Skills 1: Financial Fitness for Graduate Students and Postdocs, Dec 14, 12:30pm

This seminar will address the financial challenges that graduate students and postdocs face along with tips and advice on how to overcome them. Financial specialists will cover a broad range of topics including budgeting and saving, student loans, debt management, retirement planning and general tax issues related to fellowships, scholarships, international taxes and more.

Join us for this informative workshop and get on the road to financial fitness! 
Lunch will be provided.

When: December 14, 2015, 12:30pm-2:00pm

Where: Wang Center Room 201


Stephen Baumeister
Senior Financial Consultant
Field Consulting Group
TIAA-CREF Financial Services

Barry Soloway
Tax Consultant
Soloway Agency

Renee Pelletier
Senior Financial Advisor, Financial Literacy and Default Management Specialist
Stony Brook University


Practical Professional Skills 2: Dealing with Difficult People: A Matter of Discipline and Difference, March 8, 12:30pm

PPS2 FlyerNo matter who you are, sooner or later (or perhaps right now) you will encounter an individual whose personality or approach to life creates conflict or a level of discomfort for you or others around you. Solutions for dealing with difficult people are not “one size fits all”. In this seminar, Dr. Tonjanita Johnson will offer some helpful perspectives in understanding how to effectively identify and address the underlying causes of “difficult” behavior and how you can develop your own, disciplined approach to diffusing potentially volatile people and situations in your professional, academic or personal life.


When: March 8, 2016, 12:30pm-2:00pm

Where: Wang Center Room 301

Lunch will be served. 


Tonjanita Johnson
Vice President for Communications and Marketing
University of Tennessee

Dr. Tonjanita (Tonja) Johnson is responsible for overall communications, research-based messaging, marketing, and branding activity for the University of Tennessee System. Prior to her appointment with the University of Tennessee, Johnson served for three years as chief deputy to the president at Stony Brook, where she also held a faculty appointment in the School of Professional Development, teaching higher education leadership.

Practical Professional Skills 3: Strengthening Your Leadership, Team Building, & Communication Skills, May 12, 12:30pm

PPS3 FlyerJoin us for an informative and interactive workshop centered around strengthening your leadership, communication, and teamwork skills. We will also explore some important aspects of today's organizations -- including the concepts of efficiency, effectiveness, and cooperation. Our goal is for you to leave the session with a better understanding of organizational structures and cultures, and to better prepare you for future leadership roles.



When: May 12, 2016, 12:30pm-2:00pm

Where: Wang Center Room 201

Lunch will be served. 


Rick Gatteau
Associate Provost for Academic Success
Stony Brook University

Rick Gatteau, PhD, is Stony Brook University's Associate Provost for Academic Success. He has worked in the higher education field more than 20 years with experience in residential life and academic advising. Dr. Gatteau served as Senior Dean of Columbia University's sophomore advising center before coming to Stony Brook University in 2002 as Director of Academic and Pre-Professional Advising, and now as the Associate Provost. He also serves as the Faculty Director of the Higher Education Administration program at Stony Brook, where he teaches Foundations of Higher Education Administration, Advising and Counseling in Higher Education, and Project Seminar, a capstone research course. Dr. Gatteau holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Bucknell University, a master's degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs from the University of Vermont, and a doctorate in Educational Leadership and Administration from Fordham University. Dr. Gatteau is a Long Island native and currentlly resides in Huntington.




Practical Professional Skills 1

flyerNavigating Complex Organizations
Hosted by Dr. Nancy Goroff, Associate Provost

Thursday October 9, 2014  1:00-2:30PM
Wang Center Room 201

In the first workshop of this series, we will review the general structure of most organizations and provide some strategies for navigating bureaucracy. 

Issues such as dealing with uncertainty, managing relationships, organization politics, and work pressure will be discussed. Additionally, participants will learn why more and more organizations value adaptability as a key skill in their employees and how to make meaningful contributions in any work environment.



Practical Professional Skills 2

PPS2 FlyerGiving and Receiving Constructive Feedback

Monday, December 8, 2014  12:30-2:30PM
Wang Center Room 201
Lunch will be served

Through interactive discussion and role play activities, participants in this second workshop will learn how to deal with conflict in the context of giving and receiving feedback. The impact of communication styles as well as the physiological, social and psychological processes involved will also be discussed.


Mary Eisenstein, Communications Coach and Training Expert

Nina Maung-Gaona, Assistant Dean for Diversity, and Director, Center for Inclusive Education


Practical Professional Skills 3

PPS3 FlyerTime and Energy Management: Achieving Peak Performance

Tuesday, March 3, 2015  1:00-2:30PM
Wang Center Room 301
Lunch will be served

Most graduate students and postdocs want to be their best - highly productive and efficient. When are you at your personal best? How do you stay positive, focused, and productive in spite of what might seem to be overwhelming demands on your time? When are you "in the zone?" There is no one secret to everyone's success; each of us has our own formula. This interactive workshop will help you assess your time perspective, energy peaks and valleys, and help you construct a new success scaffold for moving forward more productively.


Marianna Savoca, Director, Career Center

Alfreda James, Assistant Director, Career Center

Download the slides here.


PPS3 FlyerPractical Professional Skills 4

Strategic Professional Growth:
Planning Your Path to a Satisfying Career

Thursday, May 7, 2015  1:00-2:30PM
Wang Center Room 201
Lunch will be served

This guided workshop will help graduate students and postdocs develop strategies for professional growth by:

  • Learning strategies to explore a range of careers
  • Identifying interests and skills relevant to their career goals
  • Developing an action plan to strengthen skills and pursue their ideal career
  • Preparing or expanding their Individual Development Plan (IDP)


Nancy Goroff, Associate Provost, Integration of Research, Education, and Professional Development (IREP)

Kathleen Flint Ehm, Director, IREP Office

Download the Slides here.


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