Why You Should Bother with Professional Development While Studying

Working through a semester of your bachelor’s or master’s degree and deep into your assessment schedule, seeking out additional professional development opportunities might be the last thing on your mind.

But perhaps it should be on your radar.

LinkedIn’s new Future of Skills 2019 report, reveals that two in three APAC employees (64 per cent) feel the skills needed to succeed in their industry are rapidly changing.

“As the rise of automation and technology continues to transform the skills required of the Australian workforce, the pressure for individuals and organisations to adapt has never been greater. It is important that professionals are seeking out learning and development opportunities to help them keep pace with the changing landscape of work.”

Jason Laufer, LinkedIn’s senior director of learning solutions for APAC.

As you progress in your career, compulsory training sessions and conferences will likely form part of the learning and development (L&D) component of your various roles. Studying a master’s degree is another significant professional development initiative that some professionals choose to undertake to further their knowledge and employability.

But did you know there are also valuable professional development opportunities that you can access while you study to help maximise your learning?

When you engage in professional development, you’re learning skills through hands-on experience. This can take many forms, such as an internship, training, mentorship, conference or project. Generally, it combines practical experience with the application of concepts under experienced guidance.

Engaging in professional development while you study can be valuable for several reasons:

Get the most out of your degree

Studying at business school you have the benefit of being able to access professional development opportunities through a dedicated careers service.

At Kaplan Business School, Careers Central is a thriving hub for careers workshops, events and employment opportunities. It’s a lifelong service, meaning students can access these services even after graduation.

Through Careers Central, student ambassadors can engage in programs like the Career Mentorship Program. This program involves completing professional development under the guidance of an industry mentor while linking your experience back to your course content. Each year across our four campuses, Careers Central also facilitates over 70 careers skills workshops, helping students to keep pace with the ins and outs of rapidly evolving industries.

Create good learning habits

Learning shouldn’t stop at the classroom door, or when you throw your cap up at graduation or even land your first job.

Although the term ‘professional development’ may seem self-explanatory, ‘Continued Professional Development’ (CPD) is an actual field, with its own acronym, and it represents a body of knowledge about how we learn. When doing it, you’re also tapping into a variety of learning methods, including self-directed learninggoal-based learning and problem-based learning.

Pushing yourself to make the most of opportunities can help to gain new skills, increase confidence and expand career prospects. It’s also cultivating an important habit. A habit where professional development and lifelong learning is considered a priority and isn’t sidelined as you progress through your career.

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Future-proof your career

According to a report by Foundation for Young Australians (FYA), ‘The New Work Order Report,’ graduates today can expect to hold an average of 17 jobs across their lifetime. The report predicts that as new jobs are created, and old industries shrink, graduates will remain in each job for just over three years, across five industry sectors.

So, while you might be studying to set yourself up in a particular role or industry, it’s also important to diversify your skill set. Engaging in a professional development opportunity is the perfect way to do that.

If you’re studying a Bachelor of Accounting, for example, undergoing an Academic Internship can help reiterate what you’re learning in your degree while also enabling you to develop a range of soft skills – critical thinking, adaptability, conflict-resolution, problem-solving – that will be valuable across a range of roles within your field, and beyond.

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Put yourself ahead of the competition

At Kaplan Business School, 78% of KBS students who completed an Academic Internship went on to secure employment in their chosen field within nine months. *

Further, the Australian Association of Graduate Employers (AAGE) Employer Survey 2019, shows that 62% of companies surveyed hired graduates who had gained experience within their companies while working as interns, summer vacation students, or (in the case of law) seasonal clerks.

An important factor here is networking. Students who engage with their industry through internships or other professional development activities, have access to broader networks than students who don’t. The reality is that companies will choose candidates they know, over those they don’t. You’ll also be in a position to meet and interact with experienced professionals who may later assist in your future professional development, whether it be through mentorship or opening the doors to other prospects for training.

Plus, by the time you graduate, you’re going to have a broader variety of skills, and more to write on your CV or talk about in your interview than your competition.

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You can read more about professional development opportunities available through Careers Central here.

*Based on students who completed an Academic Internship between September 2017 and June 2018