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Professional Development as an Honors Experience

"Professional Development" is the set of skills beyond your major that you will need to be successful in your chosen field. Some professional fields; such as doctors and attorneys, are required to have additional hours of "continuing education" beyond their degree to ensure they have the most up-to-date knowledge required to practice medicine or law. Professional Development experiences are intended to begin working on those skills while you are an undergraduate student in order to add to the knowledge base that is your chosen degree.

Why Should I Choose Professional Development?

While you are an undergraduate student, you have the opportunity to begin adding those skills that will make you a more knowledgeable and competitive job or graduate school applicant. Every year, thousands of students will graduate and share your chosen career or graduate school interests. Professional Development shows prospective employers and admissions committees that you are committed not only to performing well but becoming a leader and will set you apart from from other applicants. Additionally, through internships, Professional Development can put you into the workplace of someone who is doing what you want to do!

Is Professional Development Limited to Certain Majors or Disciplines?

No – whether you are majoring in art, engineering, kinesiology, or business – Professional Development is an important part of adding to the foundation that is going to be your college degree. While professional development experiences may take very different forms, they all have the same goal of adding skills and competencies to your education.

What Have Other Students Done for Professional Development?

  • Interned for members of Congress, shadowed doctors, and worked in non-profit organizations
  • Learned computer coding languages not required by their degree
  • Obtained professional licenses associated with their degree and field of study

How Do I Get Credit for Professional Development?

Applying credit for Professional Development to satisfy Honors SPICES requires a minimum of 75+ hours of time on task while supervised/mentored, a stated goal to be reached by the end of the project, and to be presented for a passing score of 80% or higher at the Experiential Learning Fair (ELF) in the spring semester. For more information on Honors College Experience requirements, visit the Experience Approval Process page.

How Do I Find Professional Development Experiences?

Before looking for a Professional Development experience, ask yourself, “Where do I want to be in 10 years?” Your Professional Development experience should be approached as a stepping-stone to where you are and where you want your professional career to take you! Talk to your faculty or professionals in the field; once you have some basic-skills via your courses or lab work, reach out to the Career Center and they can assist you as well. Finally, don’t discount reaching out via email or by phone to a “dream company” or organization!

What Does a Successful Professional Development Experience Look Like?

A successful Professional Development experience should be a path that sets you apart from your peers in your chosen major. Whether through the networking and skills built while interning with a business, government agency, or non-profit; or through developing new skills and expanding your knowledge base, a successful Professional Development experience should be viewed as a way to expand and deepen the knowledge you are gaining through regular coursework.

Example ELF Posters and Presentations in Professional Development