Why Should I Care About Professional Development?
If you plan carefully, you can use your undergraduate years to become a mature, professional person who does not merely look good on paper, in the résumé, but who can also impress in personal statements and cover letters, and during admissions, internship, and job interviews.
Your professional development is a critical part of your undergraduate degree. Professional development is the process by which you develop the goals, skills, and attributes necessary for success as a student, an applicant (to jobs, internships, or professional and graduate programs), a career professional, and a sophisticated, accomplished, and versatile individual.
The majority of students procrastinate or pay little attention to their professional development. Doing either is a serious mistake. Be one of the exceptions and commit yourself to a professional development plan early, during your freshman year in college or even during high school. A plan that incorporates a variety of interesting and rewarding experiences will deeply enrich your life as a student, add depth to any undergraduate degree, and build a foundation upon which you can create future opportunities and a higher quality of life for yourself and others.
Anyone who is serious about professional and personal success, however one chooses to define those terms, should commit himself or herself to their professional development very early on. High school students, undergraduates, and graduate students all benefit from such experiences.
Freshmen and new transfer / intercampus transfers students, please note:
A few undergraduate programs require freshmen to begin activities like job shadowing and community service work during their first semester as a college student. Still, remember that transitioning to IUB, and your new academic work load, must be top priority. Do not allow non-academic obligations to overtake your schedule to the detriment of your coursework. There are 168 hours in a week. As such, it is very achievable to manage your time in a way that allows you to fulfill academic expectations as well as other demands on your time. Toward this end, we strongly urge you to utilize our time and stress management tips and tools. If you follow the directions and implement the suggestions within this document, you will have already begun to enhance or develop some of the professional attributes described on our Professional Development page, not to mention reduce stress, and even improve your academics. (Important: In Word for Windows, if the document will not allow you to enter information in the schedule grid, click the "Enable Editing" button toward the top of the window.)
You already have, just by coming to this web site. Now, read on and continue your progress.
The overarching goal of professional development is, simply put, to gain the ability to consistently demonstrate the traits of a mature professional and a well-rounded individual. A thorough professional development program has many components, including: activities (e.g., job shadowing, students organizations, serious hobbies, volunteer work, networking), skill and leadership development, professionalism (e.g., attitudes, etiquette, ethical development, civic engagement), personal development, and overall maturity. To this list of professional traits we can also add life-long devotion to self-improvement, pride in your work (in whatever setting it may be - your chosen profession, your college experience, and even everyday tasks), and personal accountability for your work and behavior.
From your perspective as a student, we could say that professional development is the process by which you will develop the skills and characteristics necessary for success as a student, an applicant to a professional program, a career professional, and most importantly (since nothing truly productive can happen without it), success as you grow in both experience and maturity as an individual.
While professional development may seem like an awful lot to take on, remember that you have already begun, and the process can be extremely rewarding and enjoyable. The information on this web page is designed to help you continue the process. You've probably gathered that process is an important word here. While it's true that you will need to undertake a variety of endeavors at the same time, you don't need to expect yourself to complete or master them all at once. Initiating a structured professional development program early-on allows you to gradually but steadily develop these characteristics and experiences over time, so that when you graduate you are already well on your way to becoming professionalized.
The Five Dimensions of Professional Development