Enhancing Career Readiness: Doctoral Students at Work – Featuring Ben Briskin at the Center for Students with Disabilities

“This was the first big step I took after my undergraduate experience towards a professional position, and it has helped me learn what is expected of professionals in the field,” Ben Briskin said. Ben is in his third year in the Learning, Leadership, and Educational Policy Ph.D. program with a concentration in Sport Management offered within the Department of Educational Leadership. He has worked as a Graduate Assistant since 2017 at the Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD).

What is working at the CSD like?

In his role, Ben works with students with varying levels of abilities in one-on-one weekly meetings. Students who come to his office have different goals in mind for the semester. Some might want to achieve a certain level of grades or better manage their time, while others may want to meet more people. “We then take those goals and apply academic and social strategies that fit best with each student and their specific needs,” Ben said.

Working with students is one of the things Ben likes about his job. He often meets with students over multiple semesters. “This lets me build relationships with the students over time and gives me a unique opportunity to see them grow over the years,” he said.

Ben appreciates staff at the CSD being helpful and supportive all the way. He said, “They have given us the opportunity to be flexible and figure out the responsibilities of the role in ways that work for us. The CSD staff are always so nice and make it fun to come into work each day.”

Ben working at his office at the Center for Students with Disabilities (Photo courtesy of Ben Briskin)

How are your academic training and GAship related?

Ben sees a lot of what he learns from courses applicable to his work. For example, he was once in the course “Influences on Adult Learning” which looks at how people learn, and that is a major focus of his work with students. He is currently taking a course in social justice leadership, where he also finds the concepts connected with his work.

What are some of the skills developed?

Among the eight types of skills and competencies identified by the National Association of Colleges & Employers (NACE) that employers value in their job candidates, Ben is confident in communication, teamwork, leadership and critical thinking which were developed in his past experience and academic training. Meanwhile, his GAship at the CSD has allowed him to build up competencies in professionalism, equity and inclusion, and technology.

He said, “This was the first big step I took after my undergraduate experience towards a professional position, and it has helped me learn what is expected of professionals in the field.” He has also learned a lot about equity & inclusion as that is inherent in the very focus of his job. There are different technologies he learned about as well, from notetaking technology to audio recording and different types of supportive technological tools.

What would be of value for your future careers that you gained from your current job?

Ben sought out his job at the CSD through the information shared by his friend Max and he applied directly for the position. He has been working in this current role since he first started graduate school for his master’s program. Although GAships were available in his program back then, Ben did not want to limit himself to what was opened to him, “…because I knew I had interests elsewhere that would fit what I was looking for.”

Like many graduate students, Ben was not sure what to do after graduation. His work at the CSD leads him to consider possible school-based careers that involve working with students with unique abilities. “This is not something I would have envisioned before my time here at the CSD,” he said, “…and so in a way my work here was transformative in terms of helping me figure out what I want to do!”


Stay tuned for more episodes on  Enhancing Career Readiness: Doctoral Students at Work .  

Want to share your stories about jobs/internships/volunteering/services beyond your academic department? Please contact dzx19001work1@uconn.edu .  

By Damiao Zoe Xu
Damiao Zoe Xu Graduate Assistant, Graduate Student and Postdoc Career Programs and Services