Reflections on Our First Year of #GRADprofdev: Dr. Heather Brandt

Reflections on Our First Year of #GRADprofdev: Dr. Heather Brandt

I started in my role as Associate Dean for Professional Development in July 2016. It has been an absolute pleasure to serve in this role and have the opportunity to connect with so many graduate students from across our 250 degree programs. I have learned so much from all of you. I have had excellent support from administration, graduate directors, faculty, as well as staff in the Graduate School. My work over the past 10 months, quite frankly, would not have been possible without their tremendous support. I am very excited for what we will bring to you next year and beyond. This blog is a reflection on our first year.

Beginning in fall 2016, we dove in to scaling up professional development programming for graduate students. Our goal in these efforts is:

To plan, implement, and evaluate high-quality, innovative professional development programming for graduate students to enhance their graduate education experience and prepare them for a variety of meaningful career options after degree.

Here is what we have accomplished:

  • Since August 2016, we have offered 22 formal activities – workshops, trainings, lectures, webinars, networking events, etc. – with over 500 participants. We offered several activities during Graduate Student Appreciation Week. Most – if not all – of these activities were in partnership with other units on campus and in our community.
  • Part of our professional development programming included #GRADprofdev Fridays, which was used across all of our social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and WordPress). Each week, we have focused on a different theme relevant to your professional development. We are taking a break over the summer, but feel free to use the resources we have posted. We will continue to share relevant and timely resources but not on Fridays and not organized around a theme.
  • We surveyed you to learn your thoughts about professional development opportunities and needs. What you shared with us will inform our future programming. One particularly important recommendation was to increase our offerings related to CV and resume preparation, job searches, and interviewing, which we will do by working with the Career Center.
  • We launched the inaugural cohort of the Bridge Humanities Corps with eight PhD candidates and one newly minted PhD in the Humanities. The second cohort is being selected as I type.
  • We continued to have an engaged and committed group of graduate students invested in civic scholarship through the Graduate Civic Scholars Program. The third cohort starts intensive sessions on May 8, and I am excited to see what they accomplish.
  • The Presidential Fellowship is finishing up its seventh year. To date, 159 students from 38 academic programs in nine colleges have participated in this innovative program.
  • We established an Advisory Group on Professional Development for Graduate Students consisting of faculty, graduate students, and staff to help us ensure our programming is on track.

As we prepare for professional development programming in the upcoming academic year, we will build on these accomplishments and utilize evaluation data to improve.

We look forward to connecting with you in the fall, and we wish you much success – whatever that means for you – this summer. If you are graduating, congratulations! We hope that you will stay in touch to continue to build our networks with alumni.

Dr. Heather Brandt is associate dean for professional development in The Graduate School and associate professor in the department of health promotion, education, and behavior in the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina.

Questions? Comments? Ideas? Contact Dr. Heather Brandt at

Reflections on Our First Year of #GRADprofdev: Dr. Emily Rendek

Reflections on Our First Year of #GRADprofdev: Dr. Emily Rendek

It’s been a busy year! In helping to organize the well over two dozen #GRADprofdev events offered this year, the message that I felt was emphasized over and over by the invited speakers was how important it is to highlight the significance of graduate students’ transferable skills.

Whether you plan on staying in academia or not after you finish your graduate education, start taking an inventory of the skills that you have gained during your education and realize that you have far more transferable skills than you probably give yourself credit for. Putting together a skills inventory can become an opportunity to reflect on what you value and what you think could be a meaningful career for yourself.

One of the other takeaways from the workshops and events this year is that you need to make opportunities for yourself because they won’t come looking for you. You’ll find far more doors opening for you when you’re being proactive rather than reactive. One of the tangible bits of advice related to this idea is setting up informational interviews. Want to learn more about a job or career path that you are potentially interested in? Set up a meeting (over coffee, in the person’s office, over the phone, etc.) where you ask questions and learn more about potential job areas for yourself. Networking is incredibly important (Dr. L. Maren Wood writes about how crucial it is in this Chronicle article), and informational interviews can be one way to build up your professional network. Don’t forget to take advantage of all the resources at UofSC, too! Take a training class offered by HR. Check out the Career Center. Take on a leadership role in the GSA or in the graduate student organization in your department. There are so many career paths open and available to you—start exploring this summer!

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed meeting so many students from departments all over campus this year at #GRADprofdev programming and while assisting with the Graduate School’s affiliated programs, such as the Bridge Humanities Corps. I’m looking forward to planning more professional development events for our graduate students and hope to meet you at a #GRADprofdev event in the upcoming academic year.

Have a great summer!

Dr. Emily Rendek is the Public Information Specialist for the Graduate School at the University of South Carolina.

Questions? Comments? Ideas? Contact Dr. Heather Brandt at

Three Myths about the Nonprofit Sector

Three Myths about the Nonprofit Sector

When it comes to the nonprofit sector, many myths abound: about what nonprofits may or may not do, who they may and may not serve, how they may raise money – and how they may spend it, and what they may and may not say publicly.  From time to time, I hear the phrase “We’re a nonprofit, we can’t {fill in the blank}.” The truth is that in some ways, nonprofits are run just like businesses, but not in others. Knowing where the distinctions lie is important to success as a leader in the sector. Here are a few common myths:

  • Nonprofits cannot lobby government! – Some folks seem to think that the First Amendment does not apply to nonprofits, but the reverse is more the truth, though there are some limitations. While Charitable Organizations (501(c)3) are prohibited from endorsing or campaigning against political parties and candidates, a rule called the Johnson Amendment. Beyond that, nonprofits may definitely engage in nonpartisan campaigns to influence legislation. Truly, any nonprofit that wants to effect system-wide social change must.
  • Nonprofits cannot make a profit! – Yes, this is correct. What is often not correct when this is said is the definition of “profit”. Profit, in this sense, is excess revenue left over after all expenses are paid, which is then distributed to the owners, who may keep it, or put it back into the company. In a nonprofit organization, there are no owners or shareholders, so the ‘profit’ (more properly, the surplus) must stay in the organization and eventually be used for the charitable purposes of the organization. With that in mind, leaders of nonprofit organizations have an obligation, as stewards of charitable funds and missions, to ensure that the organization is financially sound, so that its mission may continue. Organizations that run repeated deficits year after year tend not to remain open.
  • Nonprofit staff are paid much less than for-profit employees. There’s no career advancement. This myth is more nuanced, because there is an echo of truth to it. Ultimately, it depends on the size of the organizations. Nonprofit staff, particularly in management positions, do tend to earn less than comparable positions in the for-profit sector, though more recent reports suggest that gap is closing, especially total compensation (benefits) is included. Further, over 10 years ago, Thomas Tierney of the Bridgespan Group wrote a paper (The Leadership Deficit) warning of an impending crisis in Nonprofit Leadership, that as Baby Boomer executives and founders retire, that there will not be enough leaders ready to step in and take their places. 11 years later, and we are beginning to see the beginnings of that prediction come true. Far from there being no room for career advancement, soon there will be too many seats left open, and it is vital to the future of society, that those seats be filled with qualified leaders.

Are you interested in a career in the nonprofit sector? Start reading up and getting in the know. The nonprofit sector is a great space for people who have graduate degrees. Start with our sector’s journals of record: The Chronicle of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Quarterly. To learn more about South Carolina’s Nonprofits, check out Together SC!

Ben Bullock, MSW, MPA is the Director of Operations for Together SC. He is a graduate of the University of South Carolina.

Questions? Comments? Ideas? Contact Dr. Heather Brandt at

Perspectives: The Non-Profit Sector by Mary Dell Hayes

Perspectives: The Non-Profit Sector by Mary Dell Hayes

My first nonprofit job? I hated my career in financial services and started volunteering as an advocate for survivors at Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands. I loved my volunteer work. Within six months of dedicated volunteering, I had the opportunity to become the Volunteer Services Coordinator.

My second job? WOOO, can we say burnout? After four years at Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands, I was crispy as burnt toast. I had been volunteering for special events with Pawmetto Lifeline and had the opportunity to work in development there.

Then what? I did a brief stint at a nonprofit job where there was a serious culture and attitude clash. Then, I had the opportunity to come back to Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands in development. In the spring/summer of 2016, I was promoted to Executive Director, finished the PMBA program at UofSC, and had a baby.

Here is what I learned:

  1. Your professional network defines your professional career. Don’t be fake. Build lasting relationships with people you like and respect. Have at least one relationship with someone you don’t really like or agree with, but who you ethically respect enough to take their feedback. No one does well in an echo chamber.
  2. Volunteer. Volunteering isn’t just good for your resume or CV. It’s an extension of your record. It’s an outward and visible sign of your values. It can lead to your next job.
  3. Money isn’t everything! Look at more than a salary band when taking a job. Do you have flexible hours, like really, and not just a policy that no one actually uses? Can you bring your baby to work with you? Do you get family leave? Do people actually take a vacation or do they just check their email at the beach? Will the company invest in your professional development? Will you like and value the opinion of the people you have to work alongside every day?
  4. Nothing is permanent or perfect. No workplace or agency is always going to be the same or will achieve the level of perfection we seek. How long can you live with how it is now? How long will it take to change things and are the resources available? This applies whether it is developing a new program, launching a new curriculum, or looking at how the agency is managed. Along those lines, what is your next move? Always have a Plan B in case where you are now doesn’t work!
  5. Read. Learn. Read blogs on the nonprofit sector. Watch Ted Talks. Read books and articles from thought leaders. Challenge yourself to continually fine tune your philosophy on the nonprofit sector and program service delivery. If you are new to the nonprofit sector, welcome! There is a lot to learn and much benefit to be derived. Take a look.

Mary Dell Hayes is the Executive Director of Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands (STSM). Mary Dell received a Bachelor of Arts in Government and International Relations with a minor in Public Relations in 2006 and a Master of Business Administration degree from the Moore School of Business in 2016 from the University of South Carolina. Learn more about STSM at

Questions? Comments? Ideas? Contact Dr. Heather Brandt at

It’s Financial Literacy Month. Do you know where your money is?

It’s Financial Literacy Month. Do you know where your money is?

If you live like a graduate while you’re a student, you’ll live like a student while you’re a graduate. ~Unknown.

I wish someone would have shared that quote with me while I was obtaining my masters degree back in 2013 to 2015. Being a graduate student, especially with an assistantship, meant that I had some gray lines in my life. One of those gray lines was serving as a paraprofessional but not earning income that would support a business-professional lifestyle (i.e. staying up to date on the latest fashion trends and going out to lunch or happy hour with colleagues). With that being said, I have two pieces of advice on managing your finances as a graduate student as well as your career trajectory:

  • Budgeting generally works one of two ways: increasing income or cutting expenses. While increasing income sounds enticing, generally, cutting expenses is the reality. Well, how can I cut expenses you might ask? Simple, here’s a few suggestions:
    1. Start a dinner club with your friends. Pick one night of the week and rotate who cooks and who hosts dinner that night. It’s a fan favorite because you can get together with friends while not breaking the bank (and you only have to worry about doing the “work” for it once every few weeks).
    2. Rotate the use of your entertainment streaming options. Consider being a subscriber to Netflix for a couple of months, get caught up on your favorite television shows through them, then cancel, subscribe to something new like Hulu or Amazon, and keep rotating. While these subscriptions cost approximately $10.00/month, if you hold yourself accountable to sticking with one at a time, you can put that additional money elsewhere (like that business-professional lifestyle you may be trying to live).
  • Loans. Loans. Have federal student loans from undergrad? Here’s a few things to consider:
    1. While in graduate/professional school, you may be in what’s called deferment. This is a period in which repayment of the principal and possibly interest of your loan is temporarily delayed. Sounds great, right? Well, this may also be a good time for you to at least start paying down on interest on your student loans. This is because it’ll be low cost for you but will decrease the total amount that you owe once you’re payments start back up again.
    2. With federal student loans, there are an abundance of different repayment plans, which is helpful because you’re not placed into a ‘one size fits all’ plan. You can do some research to figure out which repayment plan might be best for you (post-graduation). Check out for tips. Just remember that your decision should ultimately reflect your budget and financial goals.

Do you see a pattern with the abovementioned points? Essentially, every financial decision that you make comes back to budgeting. Therefore, get in the habit of tracking your income and comparing your estimated expenses vs. your actual expenses. And lastly, pick a budgeting method that works best for you – whether that be on paper, on excel, or even on your smart phone! Budgeting is a deliberate strategy that will help you keep up with your money.

Lauren Lipinoga graduated with a M.Ed. in May 2015 from the Graduate School of Education at the University at Buffalo. She currently serves as the Coordinator of Financial Literacy within the Student Success Center at the University of South Carolina.

Questions? Comments? Ideas? Contact Dr. Heather Brandt at

Tip-off to Grad Student Appreciation Week, April 3-7, 2017

Tip-off to Grad Student Appreciation Week, April 3-7, 2017

Thank you for choosing to be a graduate student at the University of South Carolina! In the spirit of the Final Four, this post is the tip-off to Grad Student Appreciation Week, April 3-7, 2017. Regardless of the outcome of the basketball games this weekend, we will be celebrating your accomplishments and contributions to our teaching, research, and service missions next week.

As graduate students, you are about one-quarter of the USC-Columbia student body. You are in at least one of about 250 certificate, masters, and doctoral programs across 13 colleges and schools. Some of you are full-time traditional students on campus, while others are part-time students or in online programs who may never step foot on campus.  Many of you benefit from programs such as the Graduate Civic Scholars Program, the Bridge Humanities Corps, the Grace Jordan McFadden Professors Program, the highly competitive Presidential Fellowship Program, and/or the Graduate School travel program.  Some of you have been awarded SPARC Graduate Research Fellowships. Some of you teach in various undergraduate programs, or conduct research with a faculty mentor, or work elsewhere on campus on in the community. As graduate students, you are engrained into the fabric of this university.

Hopefully, all of you benefit from our professional development activities (#GRADprofdev). Following a thorough assessment by both an internal committee of faculty, staff, and graduate students and two external consultants last year, one of the primary recommendations was to enhance professional development for our graduate students by making an intentional investment in these activities. Grad Student Appreciation Week, Professional Development Fridays, webinars, and special activities, such as the Cheeky Scientist aka Dr. Isaiah Hankel, academic publishing with George Thompson, and From PhD to Life with Dr. Jennifer Polk are all activities sponsored by the Graduate School. These activities are for you and designed to invest in you and your preparation for a variety of meaningful careers after degree.

After 29 years in the Arnold School of Public Health, two terms on Graduate Council, and a variety of other campus activities, I was selected last summer to serve as vice provost and dean of your Graduate School.  My primary office is in the Osborne Administration Building, where I oversee all faculty recruitment, appointment, tenure and promotion processes as well as faculty awards and policy development.  As dean of the Graduate School, I work actively with our leadership team and Graduate Council to assure that each of you experiences a quality education that prepares you for your chosen career.  From approving courses and curricula to processing applications and programs of study to establishing and enforcing policies for academic progression, we here at the Graduate School serve you as our graduate students.

I hope that you will join me on Monday, April 3, from 4:00-6:00 p.m. in Byrnes 311 to mix and mingle with your fellow graduate students.  I look forward to meeting many of you then. Please plan to participate in any of the activities, with something every day next week.  I also hope many of you are presenting a poster or in the 3MT competition at Discover USC on Friday, April 21.

From tip-off until the final seconds tick off of the clock on your time as a graduate student at USC, know that we are here for you and we appreciate you.

Dr. Cheryl Addy is vice provost and dean of the Graduate School at the University of South Carolina. Dr. Addy welcomes your input, and you can contact her at or 803.777.2808.

To access information on and registration for events during Grad Student Appreciation Week 2017, go to Look for #GRADprofdev notation.

Questions? Comments? Ideas? Contact Dr. Heather Brandt at

Digging for funding? Let’s talk about how PIVOT can help.

Digging for funding? Let’s talk about how PIVOT can help.

Have you ever wanted to conduct a research project but couldn’t find the funds to pull it off? Struggled to pay the tuition bill but had no idea where to look for scholarships? Wanted to travel to do research but you’d have to eat rice and beans the rest of your grad school career to do so?

If so, look no further than Pivot…the most comprehensive source of Funding available on the Web. It is a global database, packed with 26,000 records of funding opportunities worth an estimated $33 billion.

Pivot is multi-disciplinary in scope, housing over 11,500 national and international sponsors including government agencies, private foundations, corporations, and non-profit organizations.

Funding for many purposes can be found on Pivot, and it is updated daily by a group of editors-not a machine!

As a graduate student at the University of South Carolina, you have free access to this invaluable resource. Just follow the directions below to create your account.

After you create your account, register here for a free #GRADprofdev webinar on Friday, March 24, 2017 from 2-3 pm. Register at:

Gayle Haddock from the Office of Research & Grant Development will conduct the webinar. She will provide a step-by-step guide on how to most effectively use Pivot to find funding for grants, fellowships, travel, training, and more!


If you don’t have a Pivot account, go to and click on the Sign up link in the upper right of the screen. Fill out your Name, Email, Password, and Affiliated Institution. (The email you register with must be the email at your affiliated institution. Pivot will not allow you to create an account if you enter a non-institutional email address.) Click the “Create my account” button, and Pivot will send you an email to the address you supplied; in the email will be a verification URL. Click on the URL and you can begin using Pivot right away!


There are two ways to access Pivot:

1) Use an on-campus computer and go directly to

2) Log into Pivot at with your username and password. If you don’t already have one, you can create one from the same page. If you’ve forgotten your log in information, click the “Login help” link for assistance.

Gayle Haddock is the training manager in the Office of Research & Grant Development at the University of South Carolina. Learn more about this division at

Questions? Comments? Ideas? Contact Dr. Heather Brandt at