In order to guide graduate students and postdoctorals to be well-rounded, effective professionals in their current and future careers, university faculty and administrators across the country have developed a series of proficiency areas that we all strive to demonstrate in our professional lives. These “core competencies” make up a successful scholar in the academy and a proficient professional outside of it.

UCLA Core Competencies

Self-Assessment and Development

Healthy work habits and personal skills are also key to your professional success. By understanding wellness and life balance, ability to assess your values, knowledge and transferrable skills, practice financial literacy, and successfully socialize in your work environment will support your ability to transition into a professional career.

Communication Skills

Successful professionals are able to address and communicate with diverse audiences. As a professional in academic or other fields, you will be well-versed in scholarly and industry-specific writing and have the oral presentation skills to highlight your aptitude. You will be able to communicate verbally and in writing with diverse and non-specialized audiences, and use digital literacy.

Career Path Preparation

Successful professionals feel confident and empowered to explore, pursue and apply for their chosen career path. They perform career exploration, execute job and internship searches, acquire new skills, practice professional etiquette, prepare application documents, network with current and potential colleagues and use interviewing and negotiation skills to optimize their career trajectories.

Scholarly Expertise & Integrity

Expertise and integrity play a key role in academic and professional success. In order to produce highly regarded work in your area of study or work, you need a command of discipline-specific knowledge and scholarship, mastery of research methods, exposure to collaborative research, familiarity with norms in the field, and commitment to civility in scholarly exchange and pedagogy.

Teaching & Mentorship

Successful professionals have the skills to be effective teachers and mentors to their students and peers. As a professional in your field, you will know how to lead and facilitate active learning, how to assess learning and skills, and how to act as an advisor and role model. If you are in a teaching professions, you will also have knowledge of pedagogical methods and teaching philosophy as well as syllabus and course design.

Project Management, Leadership, and Collaboration

As a graduate student, postdoctoral scholar, professor, or other professional, you will have the skills to generate successful (fundable) projects, work in teams and operate independently. At all levels of academic training and professional life, successful projects require an entrepreneurial mindset and skills in grant writing, budget management, teamwork, collaboration, conflict management, valuing diversity, time management, and the ability to delegate tasks.