Professionalize your experiences

Reevaluate your time spent as a college student

Anna Jaskiewicz, Op/Ed Editor

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I think it’s safe to assume that most of us students here at Bloomsburg University have decided to come to college in order to better prepare ourselves for the professional world and to gain valuable skills and abilities. 

Although I am a firm believer that a quality education is one of the best ways one can better oneself, I also believe that treating each life experience you have as a possible learning opportunity is another way you can actively prepare yourself for success beyond the classroom. 

At Bloomsburg University, we are very fortunate to have a dedicated team of staff members for the Professional U office who consistently work to help students find professional opportunities. This department also works tirelessly to develop and plan important networking events and other opportunities that are designed to provide students with a chance to practice professional etiquette. 

As a student who is still struggling to decide where she fits into the “working world,” I truly appreciate that these resources are available to me and I hope that some of what I have said here entices you to take advantage of these resources as well. 

However, I would like to propose that attending these professional development events are far from being your only chance to prepare for the next stage of your life. You may be surprised to hear this, but even if you haven’t partaken in any of these wonderful, campus-sanctioned professional development experiences you may already have some great professional experiences under your belt.  

For example, if you’re involved in a student organization and hold one of the executive or officer positions you are most likely taking on extra responsibilities and developing leadership skills. The willingness you have to pile on additional work for the sake of your organization will show future employers that you have a strong work ethic. Your role as an elected leader within the organization will prove to employers that you’re well-liked by your peers and that you were viewed as someone who can make reasonable decisions on behalf of the group. 

Apart from student clubs, another way that you may be unknowingly gaining professional experiences is through your part-time employment. Many of us hold student worker positions at BU and these part-time jobs can be very diverse in the tasks you are asked to complete depending on the department you are working with on campus.

You may also have a part-time position outside of the university that may or may not directly correlate with your desired field of study. However, I implore you to rethink the possible takeaways of your part-time jobs. 

Yes, they can act as an easy and oftentimes low-stress way for you to earn some spending money while you are away at school. But should you consider those jobs as worthless, beneath you, or a waste of your time? I would argue that no, you shouldn’t treat those part-time positions with an uncaring attitude. 

Contrary to popular belief, you can gain valuable professional experiences at the part-time jobs you hold. You just have to be able to articulate these professional traits to your future employers. So, take some time to think about what you’ve learned during your experiences and how that could relate to any professional position you’re trying to land. 

The moral of this article is, don’t discredit the activities or part-time jobs you are involved in as a student during your time here at BU. 

Sure, getting an internship is highly recommended and I’d encourage that as well, but if you are struggling to fit one into your schedule or maybe you applied without securing the position, don’t despair and think you aren’t doing anything to develop yourself professionally because chances are you are probably doing fine. 

Going forward, try to treat every opportunity as a learning opportunity. By doing this, you will begin to realize how much more you’ve gained during your time as a college student.