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What is Professional Development & Why Does it Matter to You?

September 14, 2018

September is Professional Development month at the Idaho State University College of Business. You might be wondering: what exactly is professional development? What will it do for you? And finally, is it worth looking into?

Professional development is the process of improving business etiquette and workplace professionalism through preparing students for professional interaction and job searching. This could include developing professional networking skills, creating professional resumes, cover letters, and gaining hands-on experience working in a real office setting. These skills help ensure that students are not only educated in their field of study, but that they have the professional and interpersonal skills to succeed in the workplace. These activities also ensure that students have employer connections, field experience, and even jobs before graduating.

By establishing your professionalism in college, you become a better and more outstanding fit for employers because it becomes clear that you are practiced and know how to work and interact in the professional arena.

Professional development also helps you because it will make you look more attractive to potential employers because it shows your dedication and that you have good skills. It also shows that you are continually working on those skills. Lance Erickson, Director of the Career Center at ISU says that "Time is money for employers, therefore, students who are more prepared for the world of work tend to fare better."  Companies who are focused on growth will appreciate the fact that you are also focused on growth by improving your own skills that, in the end, will benefit the company. Developing professionally allows you to become better in your field and allows you to "sell" your skills and work ethic to potential employers.

Well, this is great and all but what if you've already had some academic professional development practice? What skills are employers looking for? Counselors at ISU have some answers. Erickson says skills that employers are always looking for are "…Problem-solving, teamwork, communication skills (both verbal and written), leadership, analytical skills, taking the initiative, technical skills, and organizational and strategic planning abilities." Employers heavily value people who can take charge and who can get stuff done without much direction. These are skills that are learned through taking part in professional development activities, which even includes involvement in student organizations. It becomes obvious to employers which students have and have not practiced these skills. Those that have, stand out as the best candidates to hire.

Professional development is critical to your job search as a student and is critical to employers’ ability to hire well-rounded and already prepared students. Seek out these opportunities to hone your professional skills then get out there, impress your employers, and knock the socks off of your competition.

The College of Business highly encourages (and even requires in some cases) their students to attend their Professional Development Month activities. Some of the activities hitting the calendars in the next few days include:

  • Saturday, Sept. 15 - "Suit Up" at JCPenney Students Get 40% Off Dress Clothes
  • Wednesday, Sept. 19 - "Career Fair Networking" Not sure how to network? Actual company recruiters will be here to tell you what they are looking for
  • Thursday, Sept. 20 - CoB Career Fair & Accounting "Meet the Firms" 
  • Friday, Sept. 21 - Accounting Career Vision Symposium 

For locations and more details, visit the College of Business's Professional Development website.