Rivera Library’s Access Services Desk Coordinator Leslie Settle recently participated in the spring 2018 University of California Women’s Initiative for Professional Development (UC WI).
UCWI is a unique, experiential professional development program sponsored by the Systemwide Advisory Committee on the Status of Women (SACSW) and the UC Office of the President and administered by Systemwide Talent Management. It’s designed to promote women in leadership at the university and establish a pipeline for advancement.
Chosen from more than 300 UC Riverside applicants, Settle joined a select group of 120 women comprised of mid-career staff, faculty and academic personnel from across the UC system who demonstrated potential for advancement. Participants were organized into four groups of 30 women, called cohorts. “We became almost like an instant family,” Settle said of her southern California cohort.
From April to June 2018, Settle’s cohort met four times, most days from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Training topics included growth mindset, intersectionality, balancing advocacy and inquiry, emotional agility, negotiation, writing professional narratives, and more.
“It was eye-opening for professional development. They gave us tools that I’ve never heard of before that helped us to look at our careers and accomplishments in a different way,” she explained. “It took me from just thinking about what I need to do, to doing what I need to do.”
Settle met faculty, support staff and administrators from all ten UC campuses, all at different career levels – some rather high-ranking. “At the start of the program I felt like, ‘Do I deserve to be here?’” Settle confided. Fortunately, she said, one of the core elements of the program addressed the “imposter syndrome.”
“Every single person shared that they felt the same way at the beginning,” she added. “But by the end of the program, I felt empowered.”
Class instructors included Provosts and Vice Chancellors from various UC campuses who, in Settle’s opinion, demonstrated a refreshing degree of transparency about their experiences as men and women in leadership positions.
“It was so much content at an accelerated rate, but very fun and interactive,” Settle said of her overall experience. “Nevertheless, the content and skills learned in this program were life-changing. I’m looking forward to sharing these skill sets with everyone in my department and applying them in my professional career path.”