How to Successfully Transition Your Grad Group


One of the most important jobs you have as a leader is to pass what you have learned onto the next generation of leaders in an effective way. This can take many different forms depending on the size of your group and the structure of your leadership. In general, the larger the group, the more structure and planning you will need. Here are some of my tips for running effective transitions.

1. Start Early

If your semester ends in April, start thinking in February who will lead your organization the next year. Some positions, like President/Director/etc. may require you to talk to your current officer team and plant that seed early. Give yourself plenty of time to advertise your officer positions and answer questions.

2. Ask for Help

If you have an entire team, ask for help in recruiting new officers. Advertise your open positions broadly, but make sure to talk to people in person. If you had a person who showed up to every single social event, email them and ask if they would be interested in becoming your Social Chair. Have everyone use their network to find excited and talented officers for your grad group or other organization.

3. Document throughout the Year

Try to keep a running list of events throughout the year. How many people came? Did it go as expected? These notes are invaluable for the next group of officers. Below is an example event summary. At the end of the year, we copy these into each officer’s transition report.

Date Event Officer RSVP Yes RSVP Maybe Attendance Cost Food Room/ Location Time Day of Week Comments
6/27/2015 BBQ Potluck on Huron River Amy & Bridget 18 14 $62.00 Enchiladas Amy’s House 12 PM – 2:30 PM Saturday We had to move the BBQ indoors to Bridget’s house because of rain. Great turnout considering the change of location. We played a Taboo like word game, it was a crowd pleaser!

4. Formal Reports Rock!

A good transition report cannot be replaced. Many people think this is a pain to do, but it is so very nice to receive. Outgoing and incoming officers should meet together if possible. A report will not replace that face-to-face time. However, reports are great to look back on later in the year.

Here is the outline I use for reports:

I. Letter to Successor
– What do you want to tell your future replacement? Free style here.
II. Position Duties
– Summarize in bullet points what your position does.
III. Timeline
– Break apart your yearly tasks by month. What should you do at the start of the semester? What should you do near the end?
IV. Event Summaries
– Complete the following table for each of the events that you put on this semester. For rating the success of an event, 5 should be taken as the best ranking, and 1 should be considered the worst.

Event Name:  
Event Date Location Event Length # of Volunteers # of Attendees % of Budget How successful was the event? (Scale 1-5*)
Actual Ideal Actual Ideal Actual Ideal
Event Description
How could this event be improved?  What would you do differently?
What would you keep the same in the future?
Additional Comments

V. Contacts
– Include a list of the different people you needed to contact for your position this semester.

Name Company/ University Department Title Event Association Role with the Event Phone Number E-mail Address

VI. Resources
– Orders Placed For Events
— Please provide information on any orders placed for events you hosted this semester.
– Other Resources Used
— Please provide information on any other resources (such as websites) in the process of planning your events.
VII. Publicity
– Include copies of any flyers or handouts that were given to you or that you generated yourself.   Event planning can be made much easier if you do not need to reinvent the wheel each time you plan an event.  (Please also include the file information in the attachments section.)
VIII. Semester Reflection
– What can be improved upon for your position in the upcoming semester?
– What went well for you, and your position, this semester?
– How did your work in this position support the mission of SWE?
– Additional thoughts or comments.
IX. Attachments
– Include filenames and descriptions if any.

5. Have fun

Lastly, have fun and enjoy the end of your term as a SWE Grad Group leader. You worked with a great group of people and planned many awesome events. Take time to reflect on your experiences and share your memories with the next crew of leaders. Remember, keep on striving to Advance, Aspire, Achieve.


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