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Develop Your Professional Self

The framework below is a guide to help you think about how you can develop your professional self  during college and how you can acquire these professional skills through your courses and extracurricular activities.  For more information, click on the questions below.

1. I’m still in college, why are professional skills important to me now?

2. What are the core competencies?

3. How can I build my professional skill set?


1. I’m still in college, why are professional skills important to me now?

A. Employers and graduate schools are seeking the following skills from today’s graduates: Collaboration; Verbal, Written, and interpersonal communication; Problem solving; Critical thinking; Analytical reasoning; Technical computer skills. By learning and practicing these skills now, you make yourself much more competitive for jobs and graduate school.

B. Developing these skills better prepares you for future academic work: Group work, presentations, and writing papers are a part of life at Wake Forest.  By learning how to work effectively in teams, give polished presentations, and apply critical thinking and analytical reasoning skills in one class, you will be much better equipped to employ those same skills in another.

C. Developing these skills better prepares you to compete for internships: Today’s job market is extremely competitive.  Internship experiences are essential for landing job offers, and expected by prospective employers.  Professional skills make you a more competitive candidate for these internship opportunities; also, internships are great experiences to further develop these professional skills.

2. What are the core competencies?

The Professional Development Competency Model consists of four core areas of knowledge and skills:  Communication Literacy, Personal and Professional management, Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving Skills, and Technical Literacy. This model has been developed through extensive research with Wake Forest employers, alumni, faculty, and staff, and best practice research from peer institutions. You can find a full description of the Professional Development Competency Model here.

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.

3. How can I build my professional skill set?

Here are four steps to developing your professional skill set:

Step 1 – Assess your skills and address the gaps.

Step 2 – Set professional skill development goals.

Step 3 – Create an action plan with specific steps to achieve your goals.

Step 4 – Seek out opportunities to practice the skills.