Graduate Studies

Deanne Sparks

Assistant Director of Professional Development in the Office of Graduate Studies

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

How did you gain experience when you were a student?

My undergraduate program required practicums and fieldwork for California state teaching credentials, so I spent time conducting observations, teaching demonstrations, and eventually student teaching itself. In addition, I worked as the night shift public safety dispatcher whose territory included campus security, the local volunteer fire department, and rural ambulance service. In this role, I gained a significant amount of experience on how to stay calm while receiving and then relaying critical emergency information to a variety of audiences. I continue to utilize the notetaking and communication skills I learned on-the-job as well as how to be productive at night and during a twelve-hour shift.

How did you become a career development professional?

During my doctoral studies, I taught a course entitled “Business and Technical Writing”. Initially, I thought I would have difficulty trying to maintain excitement and interest while teaching how to write e-correspondence, draft memos and evaluation reports, and create employment documents like cover letters. Working with a vast array of forms, genres, and audience expectations turned out to be very interesting as well as inescapable for me and my students. Since that first class, I have intentionally incorporated business and technical writing and pre-employment skills into my classrooms in order to familiarize students with how to write resumes and cover letters for different types of positions, confidently present their research and interests to audiences outside their field, draft their own performance evaluations, and successfully navigate the tonal shifts between workplace communication platforms.

Who is someone who impacted your career development?

The “minder” and the “cheerleader” members of my undergraduate and graduate committees have deeply influenced how I engage with career opportunities as well as navigate the path itself. A “minder” is invaluable as they keep the other committee members focused on the destination and within deadlines. The “cheerleader” is a person who may not know anything about the particulars of your field, but they are excited and want to learn with you. The presence of the “cheerleader” offsets the harshness of the critic or even recalibrates the critic by encouraging them to balance their feedback. These two committee members helped me see how important care and curiosity can be to a person’s sense of success and their perception of timely progress.