Picking University Electives

Every semester, the lists of available classes go out at registration.  Posters start to appear on the bulletin boards.  Maybe you'll even see an email or twitter announcement.  How do you choose? 

For many business majors, the top reason is eventual employability.  A skill (language, writing, communication, presentations) that can add something to the resume often rises to the top of the list.  Today I heard from UNI's Professional Writing Program where writing projects are done for real clients...always a good resume item...and pre-requisites can be "easily waived."  If you've got a professional skill area that you'd like to develop, be proactive about finding ways to get 'er done!

But, don't ignore other aspects of your personality.  Global corporations also appreciate employees who actually understand world history, international politics, and non-Western cultures.  Manufacturers like to hire folks who have a basic understanding of the science that goes into making their products.  A sales professional will certainly be more successful with a grasp of principles taught in basic psychology, sociology, and cultural anthropology courses.

In fact, a course in personal wellness that teaches stress reduction or healthful nutrition might make a big difference in your professional attitude!

Registering for Useful Classes

Students often say they wish they could get academic credit for their professional development, and sometimes a wish comes true!  The Professional Readiness Program guarantees that all business majors are introduced to the basic expectations of their future employers, but that's just the beginning.

You can take advantage of University Electives to add some real expertise in areas that employers value.  This Fall, for example, you could take academic courses in writing and communication skills:

English 4775/5775: Applied Writing: Technical Communication

Communication 2255: Public Speaking

Communication 3155: Business and Professional Oral Communication

Communication 4333: Communication and Conflict Management

Or, think about a little more expertise in a language (or even adding another language!).  How about boosting your own creativity with a class in the arts?  Employers greatly value the critical thinking skills that are developed in history and philosophy courses. 

You're already going to show credit for the Professional Readiness Program on your transcript, but think how much more you could add with some carefully chosen academic courses as well!

A chance to shine!

UNIBusiness students have a reputation for "knowing their stuff," and we show off the pass rates, certificate numbers, and rigorous GPA every chance we get.  It's just as important to show off professional polish, and here's a chance to test your writing and customer service skills against other business students across the nation.

All students currently participating in any Level of PRP are eligible, and the two top finalists from UNI will be entered in the national competition, which offers cash prizes.  

Read this customer service case, and submit your email response by midnight on Tuesday, April 17.  Send the email directly to me at dale.cyphert@uni.edu.  No late entries will be accepted and the finalists will be notifed on Thursday, April 19.

Responses will judged on whether they

1. Exhibit a clear understanding of the audience, use an appropriate tone and style, establish the desired relationship, and motivate the desired outcome.

2. Accomplish the purpose of the message by stating a clear position and supporting that position with logical points/sub-points, insightful reasoning and/or persuasive examples.

3. Are well organized and easy to follow, include appropriate headings/bullets/lists, and use smooth transitions.

4. Demonstrate superior mastery of vocabulary and superior facility with conventions of standard written English (grammar, usage, and mechanics) and use generally accepted U.S. business writing practices.

5. Use an appropriate format and document design.

Good Luck!!

Got an opinion?

This semester, students taking the Training: Design and Delivery course are working with the Professional Readiness Program to create effective training in several areas of business writing.

They are now looking for UNIBusiness students who can participate in a focus group.  If you have ever had to write for a business course or on the job, ever struggled with any aspect of good writing, or just have an hour to help out your colleagues, you qualify!

The groups will meet on Monday, 2/13 and Wednesday, 2/15 from 11:00 to 11:50 am.  If you would like to participate, please contact me directly with a reply.

Is there a reward?  Of course!  If you are currently participating in Level III, this does count as a writing event.  If you will be participating in Level III next year, we can even "bank" the activity for you!  If you're not in PRP, you'll have to settle for a dip into the candy bowl.

Thinking about writing

I never really thought about writing as a professional skill until I was hired to write advertising copy for a catalog. It was the single most boring job of my life, and it brought me face-to-face with the tedious work involved in putting one word after another.

Later, as a retail operations manager, I discovered the fun. Every month I wrote my variance explanations and had only a few sentences to deflect criticism, gain political allies, and pin blame on others. The thrill of victory was addictive and led to a lifelong habit of thinking about writing as a tool of professional success.

I've put an event on the Level III calendar that ought to be an entertaining evening full of words.  Performance poet Taylor Mali is going to be in Lang Auditorium this Tuesday, January 17, at 8:00 p.m.  Even if you can't go, check out his YouTubes.  You might never think about writing in quite the same way again.

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