Tips for Professional Development In College

College is all about developing your skills and knowledge in four years. Sure, grades are important and your first employer more than likely will look at your GPA, but just as important are the professional skills and experiences you will gain.

During college, you should take advantage of all the opportunities you can to grow yourself professionally. Take this time to find internships, network with professors and other staff members, attend career fairs, and learn everything you can about what you want to do in life.

Here are some tips to ensure you’re set up for success during college:

Internships

Internships are not only great to build up skills and experience, but they can also be a way to really discover what you want to do. Previously, I wanted to be a teacher and then decided I didn’t, however, after working with the agency I do now (in the criminal justice field), I realized teaching actually is what I want to go back to.

The other benefit of internships are the experiences you gain. We all know the joke that companies want someone who has 10 years of experience but no one will hire you to give you that experience! Internships are a great way to get some experience under your belt to set yourself apart from other new prospects entering the job market.

Networking

Networking is another great way to get your name out there. Get to know the people around you, despite what field they are in. You never know who could help you out later! These people that you meet can come back later and give you advice or even a reference.

I remember I once met a government agent who was pretty high up in what he did. After we talked for a bit, it turned out we were from the same hometown and I knew some of the people who he worked with! After that, we stayed in contact and he helped give me some advice on his agency.

Job/Career Fairs

Even if you’re not actively looking for a job or internship, it is helpful to go to job fairs. Here you’ll get the chance to explore what’s out there, look for new opportunities, and get a chance to use your networking skills.

I don’t think I have personally found a job or internship from a career fair; however, this is the place I have networked with other people and learned about what is out there.

On-campus Jobs

Something I will always stand by is that on-campus jobs are real jobs. Some people see on-campus jobs as a way to kill time and make a little extra money, but you can make something out of anything!

The job I had on campus was just sitting at a desk and doing a few tasks; however, after showing that I could put effort into what I was doing, my boss gave me a promotion, well a new position, but still. Now, this new position is something that I can put on a resume and gain experience from that will benefit me in the long run.

Developing your professional skills doesn’t have to be difficult. Typically, if you’re looking into something you’re really passionate about, or at least think that at the time that’s what you want to do, it’ll be enjoyable actually.

College is the perfect time to grow professionally and make yourself known. I’m sure later down the road you’ll wish you had started earlier.

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