The faculty of the Professional Development Program at UIC Business are here to support all UIC students, whatever their area of specialization. We offer the soft skills that help them stand out among professionals in their fields. Self-awareness, self-control, the ability to work in a team; these elements of professionalism raise students above their peers both in job searches and in the workforce.
Our BA 100 and BA 220 Professional Development classes are required for freshmen and sophomores at UIC Business, and BA 420 is designed especially for UIC Business transfers, so everybody in the business college can get a taste of the PDP curriculum before graduating. If you haven’t attended a PDP class yet, or if it’s been too long since you have, here are some quick pointers to keep the PDP lessons fresh on the mind:
Before we take trips, we make a lists of what we need. Forgetting something essential can throw off the whole itinerary. You should do the same for your path to graduation. Ask yourself, what do I imagine my life will be like when I graduate? What do I need to get there? What do I already possess? What do I need to develop? Where do I struggle the most? Think about your future in business. Do you imagine yourself as a better communicator than you are today? A better team member? A better public speaker? These are the missing pieces we provide in the PDP courses.
Leave your comfort zone
“We don’t grow when things are easy, we grow when we face challenges.” PDP classes help students break out of their comfort zones by challenging them in unfamiliar situations. Some of this happens through in-class simulations and exercises, some of it happens in the activities and events of the Professional Development Program. The idea is to develop confidence over the course of many new experiences, so that by the time you leave UIC Business, you’re seeking out the unfamiliar rather than shying away from it.
Drop the device and engage
Lately it seems like everyone has their eyes on their device. Mobile technology has redefined how we communicate with people outside the room, but we can't forget about the people in the room with us. Engaging with with others in person requires completely different skills from emailing or messaging someone. PDP classes provide ample opportunity to master the art of the conversation. Making your in-person communications as effective as your electronic ones gives you a major advantage on the job market.
Build your team
Networking within your field is essential. So is networking outside it. Maybe a film major wants to know more about marketing, and seeks out a marketing major. Maybe a marketing major wants to learn about shooting film. Knowledge exchanges across fields are a great way to build a network of expertise in different fields. Entering into professional dialog across disciplines helps you grow (i.e. get out of your comfort zone), and if you keep doing this in a variety of areas, you’ll find you’ve created a small team that might carry over to the professional world.
Get a hobby!
Plain and simple. A hobby reduces stress by taking your mind off work. It prevents you from limiting your world to the scope of your studies or job, and provides a healthy escape after a rough week. Employers like candidates who bring more to the job than just a narrow focus on their duties. In our PDP classes, we help students rehearse elevator pitches that weave their resumé highlights and personal interests together into a single clear picture of who they are.
Text by PDP Lecturer Paul Rodriguez