LBJ School of Public Affairs launches professional development certificate

Brooke Ontiveros

UT graduate student Quinton Beaubouef, who ran his own business before coming to the University, said he struggled with implementing professional skills in his line of work.

“When I ran the business, I didn’t really know how to pick my management team very well,” Beaubouef said. “In retrospect, a couple of them weren’t really good fits for the roles I needed them to be playing.”

However, he said a new UT program will make him better prepared for the future. The Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs launched a two-semester professional development certificate program last month to help build career skills in students. 

Lauren Berryhill, assistant director of student professional development, said 50 students are currently signed up for the program, which focuses on building six competencies valued by potential employers.

“It is really hard to figure out how to articulate your communication skills or your community engagement skills to an employer,” Berryhill said. “[Students] will not only develop these skills but also learn … how to write about them on their resume, and how to bring them up in an interview.”

Berryhill said the six competencies include leadership, communication, career readiness, diversity and inclusion, community engagement and data analysis. Beaubouef, who studies public affairs and engineering, said these competencies will allow students to thrive in professional environments.

“You’re never just playing one role,” Beaubouef said. “You have a lot of different things to do in an organization or career. This professional development program is going to be able to prepare me for these challenges.”

The program allows students to show recruiters they are prepared for public service roles, according to a program pamphlet. 

“Some people may say it’s just a piece of paper,” Beaubouef said. “But when … potential employers start asking you questions like what makes you qualified and what professional experience you have, you can refer to the experiences in this program.”

Students enrolled in the program are required to attend eight workshops or speaker events, complete a portfolio, participate in a capstone policy challenge and attend student meetings.

“UT provides so many resources that help students strengthen their skills,” said Vanessa Hillis, public affairs graduate student. “It becomes hard to wrap your head around all they offer. This program identifies the six competencies that will help us be more confident in our future careers but also connects you to resources that are frankly hard to find.”