During the 2020-21 academic year, Director of Graduate Studies Dr. Kathleen Myers and Hispanic Literatures PhD candidate Nathan Douglas collaborated on the creation of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese's Professionalization Workshop Series (PWS). One of a kind both on the IU campus and amongst peer departments across the country, the PWS provides our graduate students with support, resources, and opportunities for community building as they transition through various stages of the program and into professional careers—both inside and beyond academia. The PWS meets once a month, bringing faculty, graduate students, and staff from campus units together to discuss topics ranging from the how-to's of graduate study to preparation for the changing job market (and everything in between).
Aside from encouraging engagement in professionalization activities throughout their time in the graduate program, the PWS also offers students the chance to accrue credit toward their degree by enrolling in a one-credit seminar course. Beyond monthly meetings, these students are also individually mentored by a faculty member and compile a portfolio of documents meant to guide them through the program and prepare them for life after graduation. During this first year, the PWS faced the additional challenge of executing a series of active, in-person workshops over Zoom, but this monthly program soon became the community-building tool it was designed to be. In practice, the PWS became a way of bringing together students from our department's three programs in order to share their common experiences and to learn from and lean on each other in exceptional times. After the successes of this challenging first year, the department is looking forward to the continued development of this exciting, new program—and its transition back to an in-person format!