Guest Column - May 2014
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Taking Ownership
Follow These Steps to Career Success

By Pat Corrigan & Peter Titlebaum

Companies invest billions of dollars in research and development every year in order to provide viable products and stay ahead of their competition. R&D investment, properly spent, ensures the future of the company. Students should attend conferences and read industry publications starting in college. Many conferences are held every year that encourage student attendance. Participation provides a perfect opportunity for students to start marketing themselves and hold conversations with professionals in their field of interest. One can solidify a commitment to a chosen field, and obtain an idea of where the profession is headed. Additionally, at many conferences, students can give presentations alongside an academic adviser, providing a valuable experience notable on a resume. Once graduated, an invitation to present at a conference is unlikely until an individual advances in his or her career and is viewed as an industry insight leader. Just as companies highly value the R&D function in the context of future company growth, individuals should invest similarly in their own development to allow the best long-term career potential.

Perhaps the easiest way to maintain knowledge about current trends in an industry is through trade publications. Students and seasoned professionals should routinely review publications and contribute to the pool of available literature with insights of their own.

Role models help shape the distinction of right from wrong, however these people might not know how much impact they have on those who are observing their professional behavior. While many role models are present in life, such as coaches, teachers, advisers and employers, very few have formally been asked to assume this position in a relationship. The full value of the interaction will not be realized until both are clear about the impact the mentor has on the student. Mentorship takes place when someone teaches or gives advice to a less experienced person. Mentoring can be much more effective with established meetings and agendas so the mentor can shape content to align with the goals of the relationship.

Although these five elements—academics, leadership, trends, conferences/publications and mentorship—are all important, they must be blended to solve the professional puzzle for success. The question is, Do these measures indicate how prepared a student is for the business world, or is this merely a measure of readiness for more school? As previously stated, many career aspects are lacking in today's educational curriculum. Students are expected to do their homework, earn good grades, obtain solid employment, and perform well in their fields. However if a change does not take place in higher education, students will continue to slip by without ever hearing the words "portfolio," "resume," "cover letter," etc., or experiencing a conference and talking to professionals.

Pat Corrigan attended Miami University receiving a bachelor's degree in Exercise Science. His Doctorate of Physical Therapy will be received May 2014. Dr. Peter Titlebaum, professor of Sport Management at the University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio, has more than 25 years of experience in management in the profit, nonprofit, private and public sectors. He speaks and writes on areas of networking, organizational and personal development, educating audiences to be their own advocates.