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Professional Development Competency Model

More than ever before, employers and graduate schools expect today’s graduating college student to be prepared for their competitive environments from day one.  During challenging economic periods, such as the current one, this need is even more prevalent, since employers and graduate schools have limited or no resources for on-the-job professional and career development programming.

The Office of Personal and Career Development is committed to contributing to every student’s preparation for careers and life after college.  Through curricular, co-curricular, and extra-curricular experiences and offerings by departments within the college, students will develop the core competencies necessary for success in post-graduate life and work, including communication literacy, personal and professional management, critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and technical literacy.

Competency – <com · pe · ten · cy> – n. essential knowledge, skills, and abilities without which an individual is not a qualified practitioner.  An ability to do something, especially measured against a standard.

The four professional development core competency areas are:

1. Communication Literacy

2. Personal and Professional Management

3. Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving Skills

4. Technical Literacy


1. Communication Literacy – Communication Literacy includes oral communication, written communication and digital communication. Communication is the ability to present, write and express ideas effectively through a variety of mediums.

Oral Communication – Articulate thoughts and ideas concisely in one-on-one and group communication discussion.  Share information creatively and professionally using proper grammar, vocabulary, organization, logic, and energy through oral presentations.  Identify the appropriate use of audio-visual tools (PowerPoint, flipchart and online resources).  Use active listening skills in personal and group conversations.

Written Communication – Articulate insightful and well-equipped arguments in documents that incorporate appropriate industry format with professional vocabulary, organization, and proper grammar.  Use clear and concise language in written communication. Use appropriate follow-through in correspondences.

Digital Communication – Present self professionally through social media channels and email communication, and understand the appropriate use of digital tools.

2. Personal and Professional Management – Personal and professional management is the development of basic business knowledge, social and cross-cultural skills, professional presence and personal management.  These skills are a collection of personal qualities and knowledge that enhance individuals’ interactions within the workplace, and job performance.

Business Acumen – Understand basic business finance, budgeting, negotiation, project management, event planning, and organizational structures.

Social and Cross-Cultural Skills – Work collaboratively within team environments and communicate with diverse populations including ethnic, religious, gender, sexual orientation, and generational differences.  Exhibit sensitivity to cultural issues and value diversity.  Navigate effectively through workplace culture and norms, and positively contribute as an effective member of a team.

Professional Presence – Dress professionally and appropriately for the work environment.  Use appropriate protocol for professional and social situations.

Personal Management – Demonstrate initiative, willingness to learn, integrity and accountability in the work environment.  Establish organizational and time management systems to properly manage personal and professional projects to achieve work/life balance.

3. Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving Skills – These are skills developed in the classroom through discussions with faculty and peers, and applied through projects and extra-curricular activities.  The skills combine common sense and acquired knowledge to ensure good problem solving and decision making.

Critical Thinking Skills – Collect information through observation, experience, reflection and communication.  Analyze, synthesize, and evaluate the materials and processes to produce a comprehensive, logical conclusion to a hypothesis.

Problem-Solving Skills – Research relevant information, deliberate what course of action to take, and analyze the assumptions and the quality of the decision-making methods used to make a conclusion.  Use these techniques to formulate a workable solution to a complex problem.

4. Technical Literacy – Technical Literacy is the ability to navigate proficiently and efficiently through productivity software, digital media, and the legal use and management of technology in the workplace.

Productivity Software Basic proficiency in computer skills including office software (word processing, data entry and creating spreadsheets for basic budgeting, publishing and creating slides for presentations, and email communication); reference, research, and statistics software; and web site development.

Digital Media – Responsible use of digital technology (email, social media networks and mobile devices) and how it can be productively utilized in achieving a specific purpose or goal in the work environment.  Understand the legal uses of technology and the potential consequences of the mismanagement of technology in the workplace.