Professional Growth

The Cocurricular Journal asks you to reflect upon your growth as a professional as a result of the various experiences you include.  Although professional growth is often related to a particular discipline or area of study, professional growth can include a wide variety of general skills and attitudes that are important to your success as a professional.

Bill Coplin wrote a book entitled "Ten Things Employers Want You to Learn in College" in 2003.  His ten points may be useful to you in pondering how you grew professionally from any out-of-class experience.  His ideas are listed below.

1.  Establishing a work ethic.  Some research estimates that as many as 87% of job loss and failure to receive promotions results from poor work habits and attitudes rather than insufficient job skills or knowledge.

2.  Developing physical skills.  The ability to stay well, look good, use a keyboard and take legible notes are important to professional success.

3.  Communicating verbally.  Whether it is clear communication in one-on-one situations or an effective PowerPoint presentation to a group of people, verbal communication skills are a key to professional success.

4.  Communicating in writing.  The ability to write well, edit and proof read are essential skills for college graduates.  Just as important is the ability to use word-processing tools and to send information electronically.

5.  Working directly with people.  Building effective relationships, building and contributing to work teams, and the ability to teach others are worthy outcomes of any curricular or cocurricular experience.

6.  Influencing people.  Our success in just about any profession is predicated on our ability to manage, sell, and lead effectively.  It is also important that we learn how to deal with power and office politics appropriately.

7.  Gathering information.  Competence in finding, gathering and storing information is critical in today's workplace.  Your research methodology class that has helped you gain information about using the library, web, surveys and interviews provides the foundation for these skills but out-of-class experiences can give you an opportunity to hone and perfect these abilities.

8.  Using quantitative tools.  Even if you are an English major, your workplace will most likely expect you to be able to create a spreadsheet, read graphs, charts, and tables, and even perform basic mathematical procedures accurately.

9.  Asking and answering the right questions.  Workplaces can be complicated and rigid cultures.  The ability to detect falsehoods, pay attention to details, and evaluate processes are basic survival skills.

10.  Solving problems.  Demonstrating the ability to accurately diagnose problems and then to develop and implement solutions will impress employers.

Coplin, William D. 10 Things Employers Want You to Learn in College: The Know-How You Need to Succeed. New York: Ten Speed Press, 2003.