A couple of weeks ago I had an opportunity to attend a Career Exploration Night event, which is offered to incoming first-year students as part of their ASU 101 class. A group of five or six professionals shared valuable career advice and responded to student’s questions.
One of the panelists indicated that a candidate is not hired because of what they currently know, but for their desire for continuous learning. Employers are looking for candidates who are always in learning mode because they want to make things more efficient and share new perspectives.
There is an expectation that you will continue to enhance your knowledge and skills after you graduate. How would you respond to this question, “Where do you see yourself in 3-5 years?” What are some things you can do now and in the future that demonstrates your goal of continuous learning? In addition to your normal schoolwork and academic assignments, here are some additional ideas for you to explore.
Join student organization(s)
Even though you may be extremely busy between classes, work, homework, family and other commitments, joining and participating in student organizations can impact your career and student experience in an incredibly positive way. There are multiple benefits for joining a student organization:
- Learn more about yourself
- Opportunity to network
- Chance to build your skillset
- Demonstrate your time management
- Help you become more collaborative
- Build your self-confidence
- Provide you with a well-rounded college experience
The Fulton Schools has more than 60 student organizations. If you take the time and browse through the list, you may find a couple to pursue.
Pursue an advanced degree
You are about to complete a rigorous course of study to earn your current degree and the thought of continuing your education may appear to be daunting. You may want to pursue an advanced degree because it’s required for your chosen career or ability to have a higher earning potential.
ASU offers a 4+1 accelerated program where you can combine undergraduate and graduate coursework. You can earn both degrees in five years rather than the typical six.
Most employers offer tuition benefits for employees who want to continue their formal education. Besides the financial benefit, you can apply what you learn to your current job.
Independent study offers students opportunities to explore their interests deeper and make important decisions regarding their future career goals. They are a way for students to learn specialized material or gain research experience. The advantages of independent study consist of:
- Internal satisfaction
- Awareness of strengths and weaknesses
- Improved academic performance
- Increased motivation and confidence
- Emotional maturity
Earn a certification/license in a specialized area
A certification verifies that a professional has met a certain set of criteria for a skill or job as measured by a third-party assessment. A license is verification by a government agency that a professional can perform a particular occupation in a particular location. You can conduct research as to the certifications/license associated with your major. In the meantime, here are some examples to consider:
- Project Management Professionals (PMP) certification was created to establish a standard of project management spanning different industries and locations.
- Lean Six Sigma certification is a method to reduce costs, improve quality and maximize productivity.
- Professional Engineer (PE) is an engineer licensed by a state board of registration to practice engineering. The PE license is the engineering profession’s highest standard of competence and a symbol of achievement and assurance of quality.
Join a professional organization
For every career and/or industry there is usually a corresponding professional association that provides professional development to its members. The organization can be national as well as have a state and/or local chapter (e.g. American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and ASME Arizona Section). In addition to offering a reduced student membership fee, the benefits include exclusive online resources, networking opportunities, free or discounted publications, and conferences and seminars. If you are interested in additional information, the career center has compiled a list of Professional Organizations by State for your review.
Betty Boza is a career development specialist for the Fulton Schools Career Center. Her primary responsibility is assisting online, graduate and doctoral students with all aspects of career development including resume preparation, professional network expansion, effective job search strategies and mock interviews.