Leveraging professional development opportunities at The School of Business

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For business professionals, the continued development of skill sets often means the difference between stagnation and career success. Reaching one’s potential and keeping up with the ever-evolving needs of the business world requires a commitment to learning and self-improvement.  

I decided to pursue The Portland MBA  for just this kind of professional development. I recognized that I needed broader knowledge and insights into the world of business, so I sought out many of the resources that PSU offers. Some of these relate to specific skills and technologies, whereas others such as networking are more experiential. Regardless of the path leading to your professional development, the School of Business has events and seminars that offer you the chance to learn or practice something relevant for your career growth.

PSU and the Portland business community

Community events are the perfect opportunity to practice networking skills and learn insights from a variety of people you might not otherwise meet in a professional setting. While many professionals attend events with a focus on t networking, one can find even more value in the perspectives they gain in the process. PSU events are frequently attended by alumni, and these types of casual-professional gatherings are great for picking the brains of people who have found professional success. In particular, current students can learn what steps alumni took post-graduation to propel their careers.

A quick sidenote about networking: It tends to intimidate those who view it as a complicated affair, but a simpler view can relieve much of the pressure and lead to greater success. If you meet someone, have a pleasant discussion, and add them on LinkedIn, then that’s one more person who can field an industry question or who might know about an interesting position at their company. That goes double for people with whom you share a meaningful connection, such as alma mater (hint hint). 

One of the more subtle resources at the disposal of a graduate business student is the ability to introduce themselves to professionals as just that — a student. It’s a good ice-breaker and a nice way to frame questions and discussions with business professionals. It’s also a solid premise upon which to ask for informational interviews. As with community events, discussions framed this way are generally more relaxed, and professionals are more willing to talk business and provide insights.

Professional workshops, insights, and mindsets

The last and perhaps most underrated group of resources available is the assortment of seminars and workshops The School of Business hosts. While students appreciate the value of knowledgeable guest speakers, who offer both information and insight into useful business mindsets, many overlook the skill-focused workshops happening at the school. 

Some students might prefer to simply learn skills, such as Excel, through self-directed online resources, but for a surprisingly large number of people it can be difficult to properly develop these skills without the demonstration, collaboration, and mentorship that can occur during these workshops. 

For career development skills, the school offers a wide range of services, including resume advice, professional panels, and mentorship programs. During my time at the School of Business, every speaker I listened to or trip I made to career services left me wiser, more inspired, and more confident in my career and future.

At the end of the day, the best resource available to you is the mindset to view everything as a learning opportunity. You will be exposed to new ways of thinking, through useful skills and people with keen insights. However, you will only ever learn as much as you are willing to. If you make a deliberate effort to develop yourself professionally, you will find many avenues to success at PSU and beyond.

Stephen Murphy is an IT services specialist at Hampton Lumber. He earned his MBA from PSU in 2020.

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