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Professional Development Institute

The Hood College Graduate School, located in Frederick, Maryland, offers a Professional Development Institute (PDI) designed for graduate students who want to enhance their marketability, sharpen their soft skills and experience great networking and learning opportunities. Students in the five-Saturday program learn from industry and community leaders who bring their expertise to the seminar series. 

Focus on soft skills

Admission to the institute is by application and limited to 20 students. PDI activities are designed to equip participants with critical "soft skills" and qualities that will help them stand out in the crowd---attributes in high demand in today’s job market. Modules cover the following topics, all geared toward enhancing students' academic achievements for the workplace: 

  • Networking
  • Mentoring
  • Mapping a career plan
  • Project planning and management
  • Effective team leadership
  • Community awareness
  • Job market demands
  • Current workforce trends
  • Résumé writing
  • Interviewing
  • Self promotion

Topics and class dates

PDI sessions are typically offered from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays. Each session features two 1½-hour modules, which are led by alumni, local business leaders and elected officials based on areas of expertise. Hood faculty and staff may also lead or co-lead modules, depending on the subject matter. Those who complete the PDI program are awarded a certificate to use for résumé and interview purposes. Topics include:

    Building a Professional Identity (self-awareness and mentoring)
    Career Planning (résumé writing and interview skills)
    Presentation Skills and Social Media
    Community Awareness (networking/volunteering and current workforce trends)
    Team Building and Collaboration (working as a team and keys to effective leadership)

Students should apply only if they can commit to attending all sessions; limited excused absences only. Students who attend at least four of five modules offered each semester will be awarded a PDI Certificate of Completion, which they can list on their résumés.  

Eligibility and application

 Students from any graduate program who have completed one semester with a 3.0 or higher GPA may apply. Approximately 20 students will be selected for participation each semester. Students will be notified by mid-September if they have been selected. Students whose applications are approved will have a nonrefundable $100 fee charged to their Hood account to cover program expenses.

The seminar series is offered twice a year during the fall and spring semesters.When the application period opens for the next PDI series, you may complete the application here For more information, contact program director Barbara Haber at or    


Barbara Haber, M.A. '11, leads the PDI. Barbara is the executive coordinator of the Frederick County Business Roundtable for Education. In addition to more than 26 years of leadership experience in the business world, Barbara brings to the program in-depth knowledge of professional training as well as ties to local leaders in industry, government and the nonprofit world.