Discovering Professionalism in College

Throughout college, there are several ways to develop professionalism.

College education is meant to transform high school students into young professionals that are ready to pursue their chosen career path in the real world.

After three years of college, I’ve discovered that there are numerous ways students can build their professionalism.

Time Management

You’ll soon find in college that there is a time for socializing and a time for studying. With appropriate time management, you should be able to do both. During the week, your classes should be your top priority—so make sure you complete all of your homework assignments and keep up with course reading.

I think the biggest challenge with time management is avoiding technology distractions while you’re working on schoolwork. Put your phone away while you’re doing homework and resist that urge to open a new tab on your laptop for Facebook. Make a goal to finish your assignment and then reward yourself with a short social media break.

Take at least one day of the weekend to indulge in some social activities that you enjoy. Go outside and play intramurals or get together with your floor mates for a dinner at your favorite restaurant. If you’ve been really diligent during the week with your schoolwork, give yourself some relaxation time. Time management is definitely something you will have to work at, but after a few months into your first semester you should have a schedule that works for you!

Class Attendance/Participation

Becoming an active participant in your class will not only impress your professor, but it will also help you retain more of the class material.

I was very shy my first year and often sat in the back row without saying a word. However, once I started to raise my hand and actually become an active member of the class, my entire learning process improved significantly. It may be scary to talk in front of a group of people you don’t know…but every other student is thinking the same thing! I promise.

So, be active. Make a goal to not only attend every class session but to engage yourself in the discussion of the material with your professor and classmates.

Join Professional Organizations or Clubs

I may come off biased because I am in an honors professional fraternity, but I can honestly say it was the best decision I’ve made in my college career. This group has completely transformed my ideals of professionalism, how to dress for an interview, and how to appropriately communicate with people in the workplace.

These clubs are designed to teach you all the rules of being successful and appropriate in the pursuit of your career. If there is an organization on campus that is professional (or especially if it is a professional group that relates to your major) join it. It’s the best preparation you can get on campus to successfully learn how to get a job after college.

Network, Network, Network!

I wish someone would have told me this when I was an incoming college freshman: it’s never too early to start making connections.

It doesn’t matter what your major is, if you know someone who can be your reference for a job, you will have a higher chance of getting hired.

LinkedIn is a fabulous way to network with professionals in the workplace. Constantly update your profile throughout your four years of college with your academic and work achievements. In addition, connect with the professionals who you come in contact with throughout your education (professors count!). If you start networking early, when senior year rolls around you will be much more prepared for getting a job.

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Stephanie Vlk

Stephanie Vlk

Stephanie Vlk is a junior at the University of Dayton pursuing a degree in communication with a concentration in electronic media as well as a minor in English. While not in class, Stephanie is involved in a service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega, and a honors professional fraternity, Phi Beta Chi. Outside of academic and community activities, she enjoys dancing hip hop, reading, spending time with friends, and doing yoga.