There are a number of ways you can gain professional development experience. Here are some to get you started:
Regardless of major, research experience is valuable for all undergraduate and graduate students. Engaging in research provides students with the opportunity to take their knowledge beyond the traditional classroom setting and participate in a form of active learning. These experiential education opportunities allow students to develop critical thinking skills, while effectively contributing to their field of study or work and growing professionally.
To learn more about research at the University of Florida, visit www.ufl.edu/research or learn more about undergraduate research opportunities.
Cooperative Education, also known as “co-ops,” are structured and supervised academic work programs lasting for multiple semesters. There opportunities are always paid and are for-credit through the respective academic department.
In order to participate, students must have completed 30 semester hours prior to their first work assignment.
For instructions on how to register your co-op experience, download the Co-Op Agreement Form.
International experience can add to immense value to your professional development and overall life experiences. A rising number of organizations are interested in candidates who are globally competent. These experiences may come in several different forms:
- Education Programs
Each of these options can be considered short-term or long-term.
Short-term options allow you to:
- experience different cultures
- learn new languages
Long-term options allow you to:
- become fully immersed in a culture
- develop language fluency
- enhance employable within that culture
The UF International Center (UFIC) provides resources and information for students looking to study abroad. Make an appointment to meet with an advisor to start gathering information and programs and funding opportunities. Your college may also host specific programs that incorporate international experience.
To learn more about opportunities and resources for employment, internships, or volunteering abroad, visit the Find Experience page or schedule a Career Planning appointment through Gator CareerLink.
Internships are career-related work experiences that usually last one semester, but may last longer. These experiences may be:
- Eligible for academic credit
- Paid or unpaid
Learn more about the Summer Job and Internship Fair that takes place every spring. Schedule a career planning appointment or use Gator CareerLink to start your internship search.
Externships, also known as Job Shadowing, are another way to gain valuable professional experience by observing the day-to-day activities of a specific career. Job shadowing is a great option for students of any academic year who are unsure of their major or career goals. These experiences are:
- Low commitment
- Not eligible for academic credit
Mentorship is an opportunity to gain valuable knowledge from an experienced individual. These interactions provide educational and professional development connections that can enhance your industry knowledge or preparation.
Currently, the Career Connections Center has two programs to connect students to career mentoring opportunities: Career Connections and Gator Launch.
Part-time work is a form of employment that requires fewer hours than full-time work, usually falling around 10-20 hours per week. Part-time jobs come in all forms and are a great way to gain valuable work experience while still in school. Even if a part-time job is not directly related to your career objectives, these opportunities allow you to develop essential transferable skills that are.
Some types of part-time positions include:
- Federal Work Study
- Graduate Assistantships
- On-campus Jobs
- Positions with Local businesses or organizations
If you are looking for a part-time job, consider attending the Career Connections Center’s Part-Time Job Fair in the fall, check Gator CareerLink for local positions or schedule a career planning appointment for help with a targeted job search.
Student organization involvement provides valuable experience that allows you to identify areas of passion as you grow professionally and develop transferrable skills that employers seek. Learn about various UF student organizations, via Gator Connect in the office of Student Activities and Involvement.
If you are involved in a student organization and wish to know how your experiences may translate to a professional workplace, check out the “Discovering Professional You” track of Gator Professional Series.
Service and Community Engagement
Service experiences afford the opportunity to make valuable contributions to the community and its members, while gaining transferrable skills. These experiences:
- Are unpaid
- May be formal and count towards academic credit
- May be unstructured and independently coordinated
For more information about service opportunities and programs, visit the Center for Leadership and Service.