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Gaining University Experience as a Path to Professionalism and Readiness for Work

Critically Reflective Essay

My university experience has been fascinating and enriching, preparing me for my workplace. Specifically, it has enabled me to improve my personal attributes and generic skills and acquire an academic certification, which are all essential employability components. Employability is a set of characteristics that helps one to gain employment and maintain it (Clemente, Giner and Vélez, 2020). Most of my university projects were very innovative, and I got the opportunity to apply the problem-solving methodology in such projects. In the 21st century, problem-solving has been identified as one of the most sought-after workplace competencies (Malm, 2015). With the current wave of globalisation, employees need to be adaptable to change. Concerning this, I feel that this experience has imparted to me the skills and attitudes that I need to be employable in the globalised world. In this paper, I will reflect on how my employability has increased in terms of professionalism, work readiness, professional identity, personal ethics, and lifelong learning.

Professionalism

Professionalism is one of the essential aspects that this experience has positively impacted. Malm (2015) defines professionalism as one’s values, attitudes, behaviours, and conduct in a work environment. My education and stay here have played a vital role in ensuring my professionalism resonates with the current legal and ethical issues through exposure to various corporate models. The three categories of professionalism that my university involvement has enhanced include professional responsibilities, professional behaviours, and professional parameters. This experience has enabled me to understand the possible legal and ethical ramifications that can result from a lack of professionalism. In the current workplace, professionalism is a many-sided aspect, and any professional without a proper understanding of these facets is bound to quit the profession. One way I can be professional is by relating well to colleagues and management. Another way in which my professionalism has improved is that I can now model professional appearance and attitudes. For example, I know how to dress appropriately and courteously engage in conversations in my workplace.

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Professionalism is a sensitive area that each university emphasises to ensure its graduates are employable. A lack of this vital aspect will be a hindering factor in securing any form of employment (Malm, 2015). Instead, it will make the workplace unbearable for graduates and may force them to consider other options. Thus far, my university experience has moulded me into a work-ready professional in many ways. Some of them include challenging stereotypical attitudes and affording students an equal opportunity to succeed. Moreover, I can now act responsibly regarding personal and school property, complete tasks early enough, and comply with professional rules and regulations.

Work Readiness

Work readiness is another essential element that determines one’s employability. It entails a set of personal skills, and basic academic and critical thinking abilities necessary to maintain employment, which are essential for employability, especially in the 21st century (Clemente, Giner and Vélez, 2020). In addition, work readiness is a prerequisite for optimal job performance. Malm (2015) adds that optimal job performance requires effective communication, basic math, reading, and writing. My university experience has equipped me with the capabilities and skills that employers look for which can help me step into the workplace with no support. To this end, I am armed with the skills, such as interpersonal and critical thinking, attitudes, and knowledge that I require to enter the job market. A graduate with such a rich university experience is better positioned to contribute to productive working relationships in the workplace to achieve organisational goals (Pardo-Garcia and Barac, 2020). I can also work in teams diverse in gender, age, culture, race, or religion. This will help me identify team members’ strengths and weaknesses, and coach and mentor colleagues by giving them useful feedback. Another work readiness trait that my university equipped me with is self-management, monitoring and evaluating my own performance, and taking responsibility for my actions. Thus, my university experience has enhanced my work readiness.

Professional Identity

Moreover, professional identity is an essential attribute that a graduate need to succeed in professional endeavours. Hughes (2017) defines it as a self-concept based on experiences, motives, values, beliefs, and attributes in relation to one’s membership in a given profession. My professional identity has developed through my university experience as I have learned to advocate a standpoint of the teaching profession. I can now confirm that my university education has instilled this aspect in me in relation to dynamic educational, cultural, and socio-political landscapes. For example, an educator needs to collaborate with social workers and health professionals to ensure equal opportunities for all learners. My professional identity was further formed and reformed by interacting with my peers and engaging with the faculty. Daniels and Brooker (2016) note that peer and faculty interaction allows for the development of a strong sense of professional autonomy. The experience has been instrumental in forming my professional identity by strengthening my expertise in didactical terms, moral integrity, and my area of specialisation.

Personal Ethics

Personal ethics is another essential employability skill without which one will not succeed at a professional level since one must first apply it in personal life. According to Pardo-Garcia and Barac (2020), personal ethics refers to the standards to which one adheres with respect to interacting with people and situations in daily life. University life has enhanced my personal ethics by instilling in me a desire to impact other people’s behaviour positively. I have become a better person in terms of interacting with other people. I understand my priorities, a trait that was instrumental in my life in college. I have been taught to prioritise other people’s needs, which enables me to be happier in life. I make decisions more quickly, and this will translate into my professional life after university. Any employee needs to develop personal ethics to ensure fruitful interaction with other people (Pardo-Garcia and Barac, 2020). Lastly, my goal-setting abilities are now on a new good level, since I worked on developing this skill throughout university life. Therefore, my personal ethics correspond with current employability standards.

Lifelong Learning

Each day is a learning day, and there are many things to explore throughout life. Having realised that the room for continuous learning is unlimited, I intend to pursue knowledge by all means. According to Clemente, Giner and Vélez (2020), lifelong learning is the self-initiation that a person develops to be motivated to learn deliberately and continue seeking knowledge and skills for either professional or personal reasons. My ability to be a lifelong learner was given a boost through my experience in university, which was similar to situations in life and at work. I have been able to acquire knowledge and skills to enhance the quality of life by maintaining and improving my position in society. I now have a better understanding of the world around me, and I can learn to adapt to new work environments faster.

In conclusion, my university experience has been deeply influential in shaping and preparing me professionally in several ways. The interaction with my peers and faculty has been instrumental in preparing me for the 21st-century workplace. This experience has made me more employable by enriching my professionalism, work readiness, professional identity, personal ethics, and lifelong learning. I have gained the knowledge and technical skills needed in the workplace. I can confidently say that I am ready to start my career, having gained the required skills and knowledge.

Reference List

Clemente, I. M., Giner, G. R. and Vélez, G. S. (2020) ‘Towards sustainability in university education. Improving university graduates chances of employability by participation in a high achievement academic program’, Sustainability, 12(2), p. 680.

Daniels, J. and Brooker, J. (2016) ‘Student identity development in higher education: implications for graduate attributes and work-readiness’, Educational Research, 56(1), pp.65-76.

Hughes, B. (2017) ‘Making sense of professional identity through critical reflection: a personal Journey’, Reflective Practice, 14(3), pp.336-347.

Malm, B. (2015) ‘Towards a new professionalism: enhancing personal and professional development in teacher education’, Journal of Education for Teaching, 35(1), pp. 77-91.

Pardo-Garcia, C. and Barac, M. (2020) ‘Promoting employability in higher education: a case study on boosting entrepreneurship skills’, Sustainability, 12(10), p. 4004.

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