Professional Development and College Students

I had lunch recently with a dear friend to catch up on life, kids and work.  As we finished and opened our fortune cookies, she read hers, smiled and handed it to me saying I could use it.   The fortune read, “Doing what you like is freedom.  Liking what you do is happiness.”  She so hit the target for this week’s message to college students and the message I try to convey to everyone I work with from middle school to retirement.  Life is way too short to not enjoy what you do as your life’s work.

Just as I said last week that professional development applies to high school students, it also applies to college students.  We as adults have just been trained to believe it only applies after you get into a profession.  However, all of the arrows for job acquisition today point to preparation and positioning.  That includes anything you can do to professionally prepare or develop yourself.  You cannot afford to wait and let someone else do it or provide it for you.  What have you done to take responsibility for your own development aside from getting admitted to college and declaring a major area of study?

What does your Internship opportunity look like?  Is it part of your degree program?   Are you required to adhere to the planned Internship or can you create your own and get it approved through your advising committee?  Remember, you don’t have to wait for the Internship as provided through a program.   You can take action!

Take action by investigating businesses or firms in your area that could offer opportunities for you to learn more about an industry of interest to you.  Contact the Human Resources department and inquire about job shadowing.  Get your foot in the door!  If you like the experience, establish a relationship with your contact and work toward developing an internship experience that is unpaid if a part time position is not available.  The point is to gain experience and learn the kinds of work and environments that you find satisfying, stimulating and enjoyable.  Life is way too short not to be happy doing what you enjoy!

Internships also have the capacity to create interest in you by the company and especially if you developed the experience!   You will appear eager, engaged and willing to put in the effort to learn and further your own development as well as that of the company.  The greatest percentage of students hired as they graduated from colleges recently were hired through Internship experiences.  Knowing that, doesn’t it make sense to be proactive and start investing in your own Professional Development?