For many students, college is the place to gain a higher education, filled with life changing experiences. Once leaving the nest of their parent’s home, it is then up to the student to make the best of their college endeavor. But what about when it all comes to an end? Has college prepared you to face the professional world?
Maurice Jackson is known as Mr. School of Business and Industry. He graduated from Florida A&M University in the spring of 2005 with a master’s in business administration. Soon after graduation he obtained a position at UBS Investment Bank as an associate director.
“Being professional starts with being able to walk and talk,” Jackson said.
Jackson explains how his school options were virtually limitless. He had his choice of Ivy League schools among others, but he chose FAMU.
Jackson said at FAMU, the difference between the professional training received greatly varies. Every school on campus has a set of standards for students to meet to be considered “professional.”
The most stringent on campus is SBI. Every Tuesday and Thursday the SBI students parade to Lee Hall in dark business suits for their professional development seminars, called forums.
Professor Doris Corbett, from the office of internship placement, elaborates on the SBI “culture.”
“The culture of SBI is one of professionalism and leadership,” Corbett said. “In SBI every student is required to take professional development courses. In those classes professionalism and leadership training is taught. At the end of the student’s college career the training they received leaves the student prepared to take on leadership in corporate positions.”
To the faculty and students at SBI, professional development is more than just the courses taught and training, it’s a brand.
“The brand for us is important,” Corbett said. “It’s being an intellectual. Having strength, capability, poise, confidence, political and social savvy, and knowing the core content of the field.”
To gain these abilities students do activities like, the nothing book. The nothing book is a book of blank pages, somewhat like a journal. Freshman students must go around campus introducing themselves to upperclassmen, faculty and figureheads of the university in hopes that the person will put their signature in the book. By the time the students finish their first year the book should be filled with a list of signatures from people that they have met. In the “nothing book” students must also keep a record of what they do from the time they wake up in the morning to the time they go back to bed at night.
“It is activities like these that teach the students how to introduce themselves with the proper SBI introduction,” Corbett said. “It helps the students develop social skills and networking practice, as well as, time management.”
The students who graduate from the SBI program agree the teachings have definitely put them in a better position to deal with the corporate scene.
Sy Henderson, a fall 2005 MBA graduate said the training from SBI has helped him survive in the corporate world.
“SBI taught me to be confident in myself and my ability,” said Henderson, who now works for Proctor and Gamble as a senior purchasing manager. “Being professional is in the firm hand shake, how you talk, eat, and walk. After the years of SBI training it comes as second nature to me now.”
Only a few steps across the street from SBI is the School of Journalism and Graphic Communications. Not that the standards aren’t high, but faculty said the training isn’t necessarily as vigorous and the concept of professional training is taken from a different approach.
“Training starts at home,” said assistant professor Yanela Gordon, who also heads the SJGC office of internship placement. “What is missed at home we make up for here.”
To get professional training in SJGC students partake in colloquium. In colloquium students discuss issues of the corporate office and environment as it pertains to them as journalist, public relations professionals, and graphic designers. Guest speakers talk to them about their experiences on the job, as well as, share professional advice.
Gordon said SJGC also holds a career fair specifically for their students. She also said aside from getting the opportunity to interview for internships and jobs, students also gain the hands on training required to interact with those in the corporate community.
“The career fair trains students to network,” Gordon said. “It’s not only a great opportunity, [it] helps them develop career path choices, and social and professional etiquette that are important for recruitment or employment.”
Gordon defines professional as a “mind set.”
“It’s the transfer from social setting to career setting,” she said. “If you have good etiquette and social skills on a regular basis those skills are transferable when you are trying to get a good job or even into college.”
As a graduate from this SJGC program, Gordon feels that the training that she received then, and that students receive now, gives them the skills needed to compete in corporate America.
“I know the journalism program helps to train the students on how to dress, speak, craft emails, develop resumes and conduct an interview; And what they’re not getting in my office I know they’re getting in the classroom,” she said. “All of those things are a part of professional training.”
Faculty said outside of school there are other things students should consider when trying to build on their professional reputation.
At a panel discussion called “Woman-to- Woman: Conversation among Students and Professionals,” advice was given to the students about how to keep their professional reputation clean.
Lisa Cashulette from the Florida Commerce Credit Union warned students on the importance of having good credit.
“Your credit is very important,” Cashulette said. “Employers look at your credit when considering you for hire. I know I’ve had to turn some people away.”
Florence Snyder, a first amendment attorney and former judge reminded students about the importance of editing the exposure of their life that they put on the web.
“Also remember whatever you put on Facebook or MySpace will follow you,” Snyder said. “Employers check all of that and even if you can take it down, it never goes away.”