I truly believe that joining a registered student organization (RSO) was one of the smartest, most beneficial decisions I made in college. Upon transferring to ISU last fall, I joined their Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapter. As a member of PRSSA, I am exposed to so many opportunities I wouldn’t get in a classroom environment (even if it is a College Course for the Real World). I highly recommend joining a student organization that relates to your field of study. The knowledge and experience you gain is beyond valuable.
Being a member of a registered student organization is a great opportunity to work your way into a leadership position. As a member last year, I was able to observe how the organization was run and create my own ideas. This is my second year as a member of PRSSA, and I decided to take my membership one step further; I applied for a chair position. I am proud to say that this year I will be the Relations committee blog chair. Employers love to see progression from member to leader on a resume, so keep that in mind when becoming involved!
Running for a leadership position in your registered student organization should not be taken lightly. I took it just as serious as applying for a job. I had to polish my resume and write a cover letter, which I had no idea how to do. This gave me a chance to not only learn how to write a cover letter, but to also practice my interview skills. Our PRSSA chapter maintains a high level of professionalism, largely due to the seriousness of its’ members.
Your years as an undergraduate student give you the opportunity to prepare for your future career. You can choose to pursue experiences that will help you out, or you can sit idly and wish later on that you had gotten involved. The choice is yours!
I sometimes find myself wondering how my college assignments could possibly relate to my future career. It seems like I memorize all these theories and concepts, without knowing their practical applications. I mean seriously, has anyone in the real world ever dissected a sentence?! My favorite professors are the rare ones who make an attempt to relate what we’re learning to our futures. It’s often through assignments/projects that I’ve been able to see the things I learn in college extending into my “real life”. Lately, it seems that all my professors this semester are talking about that “portfolio” we’re supposed to be compiling. So what exactly is a professional portfolio and how do I make one?
The point of a portfolio is to be able to showcase real examples of your work to those interviewing you. It’s a way to show off your skills and strengths as a professional. What does my portfolio contain? I have writing samples from the blogs that I write for (this being one!), a letter of recommendation, feature stories I wrote for my internship over this summer and class assignments that are comparable to tasks I’d have in the workforce. I also make sure I have a few copies of my current resume just in case. I know some people keep their own personal business cards in their portfolio, as well as ones they receive.
Ultimately, what you put in your professional portfolio is up to you—whatever you think future employers would be impressed by. If you have special awards or achievements, show them off! This is your time to shine. College is a four-year period that allows you to build up and add to this crucial piece for your future, so it’s important you have something to show for it!
While the economic forecast may make you gloomy, it will give you peace of mind to know that many industry sectors today are thriving. What does that mean for you? You guessed it: jobs do exist!
But professional success won’t necessarily come fast and easy. Some of the best and most lucrative career paths require significant applied intelligence, creativity, and hard work. They also may require years of formal training involving some higher education, such as a master’s degree. Below are career paths that require a master’s degree for you to evaluate and see if one is right for you:
1) School Administrator – Master’s or doctoral educational administration degrees are available for students seeking a career in education. Such degrees will qualify students to work as school principals, assistant principals, educational board members, or faculty advisors. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment rates for post-secondary school administrators will grow by 19 percent between 2010 and 2020, and the median annual salary in 2010 was $83,710 for post-secondary school administrators.
2) Marriage and Family Therapist – A Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy will provide students with the experience necessary to practice in this field. According to the BLS, most marriage and family therapists in the U.S. work for service or government-run agencies, outpatient care centers, or at physicians’ offices. Employment is predicted to grow by 37 percent through 2020, and the median annual salary in 2010 was $39,710.
3) Social Worker – To enter the workforce as a social worker, you will need to earn a master’s degree in clinical social work. According to the BLS, this field is expected to grow by 25 percent through 2020, and, in 2010, social workers earned a median annual salary of $42,480.
4) Physician Assistant – Accredited master’s degrees will qualify physician assistants to perform medical diagnostics and procedures under the supervision of physicians, as well as provide a license for them to practice. According to the BLS, employment in this field will increase by 30 percent from 2010 and 2020, largely due to healthcare industry expansion, and the median annual salary for the position in 2010 was $86,410.
5) Computer and Information Research Scientist – Breaking into this field requires a Master’s or Ph.D. in Computer Science to better prepare workers for all aspects of computer and information science. According to the BLS, this occupation will increase by 19 percent from 2010 to 2020, and, in 2010, the average annual salary wage was $100,600.
The above positions will provide a rewarding career path for you, as well as substantial financial benefits. However, in order to gain employment in these fields, you must earn a master’s degree, which will provide you with a competitive edge in today’s tough job market.
Mandy Fricke is the community manager for Elearners.com where she helps manage their online community for their master’s programs. In her free time she enjoys biking, traveling, and reading in coffee shops.
(Sources available upon request)
As the semester is ending, the only thing on my mind is summer. While I wish I could spend my summer lounging around, the sad reality is that I can’t. This summer I’ll be working part-time, working two on-site internships, as well as blogging for eCampus.com. Maybe you don’t want to spend your summer like me, but there’s something everyone can do to be productive during break. The following are my recommendations for ways to have a productive summer break.
1. Work. Working allows me to save up money so I don’t have to work as much during the school year. If working part-time is the only thing you’ll be doing this summer, then you’ll still have plenty of time to relax and hang out with your friends.
2. Intern. Internships are the best way to get experience related to your field. Unfortunately, many internships don’t pay, so doing one in the summer can allow you to work without trying to juggle school and work too. But the important thing about internships isn’t the money; it’s getting real experience. Internships are also a great way to gain pieces for your professional portfolio. If you don’t know where to start looking, check out internships.com (that’s how I got this position)!
3. Volunteer. There’s nothing more rewarding than doing something good. Countless organizations take volunteers, especially during the summer. Volunteering is a way to do something you’re passionate about outside of school.
4. Study abroad. If there were one thing I wish I could do, it would be to study abroad. While it may be pricey, there are options to take care of the finances. There are numerous national study abroad programs, and your school may have its own study abroad program. Learning or working in a foreign country is a great resume enhancer.
5. Personal improvement. If the above don’t seem like your thing, you at least owe yourself some “me” time after a long semester. Start a new fitness routine, read a book, or take up a new hobby. There are endless ways to spend your summer. You don’t want to waste three months with nothing to show.
There is nothing wrong with relaxing for a few days after finals and enjoying the sun, but it is important to have a plan. The longer you sit around, the harder it will be to get back on schedule. What are your plans for making this summer the best it can be?