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Groups offer resources for professional advancement

Striving for excellence is a central theme at MIT. One group at the Institute that is visibly and enthusiastically working toward this goal is the support staff through the Working Group on Support Staff Issues (WGSSI). With professional development a value held in high esteem by Human Resources Vice President Alison Alden, it is no surprise that these two groups are collaborating on the second annual Professional Development Toolkit event to occur June 12.

"Events such as the Toolkit are about making an investment back into every employee," said Alden. "It was clear that last year's event was so worthwhile and well received that we wanted to do it again."

The first Toolkit highlighted the professional development services available from HR to support staff. Michele Hudak, a member of the WGSSI's Professional Development Task Force, said that this year the task force reflected on the first Toolkit and made suggestions to HR about sessions that would build on last year's event while keeping the focus on hot topics of interest to staff.

"Another idea was to team interested support staffers with HR, and we hope this collaboration results in a successful, useful event," Hudak said.

This year's event will cover the following topics in one-hour workshops: "Promotion and Transfers at MIT," "Tips for Time Management," "Professional Self-Esteem," "Surviving a Bad Day," "Communicating Upward" and "Intro to Mentoring."

This annual event is one of a number of activities that focus on professional development for support staff. For example, HR will be piloting a mentoring program for new support staff. "The idea for the mentoring program--to assist new support staff with their ongoing orientation to MIT--came out of request from the Working Group," Alden said. The goal is to have this program up and running in the fall.

Advancing your career

Meanwhile, the Professional Development Task Force "has been assembling an inventory of the resources that are available to support staff to enhance current skills and provide the skills necessary to advance careers," explains Sally Chapman, the chair of the task force. "Currently we are moving into the next phase of the project, which will be surveying the support staff to find out what they feel is needed for professional development."

In addition, HR is pleased to announce a new pilot program focused on the administrative officer (AO). The "AO Fundamentals Program" ( is a five-month learning and development experience that introduces the essential aspects of being an administrative officer. The program is open to employees in good standing who have worked at MIT at least three years.

Also, stay tuned in the next couple of months for the redesigned and renamed Workforce and Career Planning web site, "Career and Talent Management," on the HR site.

The Support Staff Toolkit in June is coupled with the annual Support Staff Appreciation Luncheon, hosted by WGSSI and funded by HR. Each of these activities requires a separate registration and is open to all support staff, but you must register ahead of time.

The direct link for registering for the lunch will be live on May 21 until June 2 at

The link to register for the Support Staff Toolkit will go live May 5. Go to and click the training tab and then "Training Catalog and Registration." Click "Career Management and Employee Benefits" and look for "Support Staff Toolkit Introduction."

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on April 30, 2008 (download PDF).

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