- How might you use your education to ensure your professional competence which is important to your future career goals?
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In my opinion, professional competence can be defined as capable of doing the job well which your profession requires. As a teacher, I had to be capable of teaching students the required material in a positive way to enable them to complete tests with good scores, think for themselves, and be ready for the next year with the skills they needed. Education can help prepare a student for their future by giving them opportunities to practice those necessary skills in internships, classroom performances, and demonstrations of the levels of competence in the skill needed. A critical part of professional competence is the ability to think for yourself, to adjust to changing conditions, and to be able to evaluate yourself honestly as to your own competence. Teachers can help you learn how to evaluate your own performance, give you ideas about how to improve, and then allow you to again practice the required skill to the level needed. My opinion is based on 35 years of teaching, 4 years in sales, and many volunteer years with prisoners who need to learn professional competence in a real job.
School or college education provides one with the basic information about the subject though it is supplemented with lab work to have a practical knowledge as well. The best way is to get some hands on experience by working in the field. When I decided that I have to pursue engineering career, I also decided to go for practical training in the industry during summer vacations.
At the time I graduated as a Mechanical Engineer, I had to my credit an eight month hands-on training in four different industries. With this I have acquired enough professional competence and was ready to take any entry level responsibility in the field of mechanical engineering. By virtue of this experience I hardly came accross any major problem while performing duties in my professional career.
I would say that you should learn everything you can while you're in school. Of course, this means that you should learn about your particular career field, but there's more to professional competence than just knowledge. You will need to learn what professional behavior looks like for your career choice. Watch your professors and others who have been in the field you wish to enter. Use this time to ask questions. Become involved in any extra activities or internships that might be offered relating to your field of interest. Now is the time to make mistakes and not during your first year in a new career.
As a teacher, I am continually attending conferences, seminars, workshops and am working on a second Master's. I feel that the requirements placed on teachers to complete CPDUs (Illinois education credits for teachers) keeps them up on the changing environment of the schools and students today. These offerings keep a teacher's professional competence up (when teachers use the knowledge as important).
As a teacher, I expect my students to learn. It is my job as a teacher to learn new things as well (mirror the behavior I desire in my students). Therefore, my education is important given my career lies in education.
I think a lot of people make the mistake of thinking that their diploma itself will be enough to prove competence as a professional. They think that if they sail through college and are physically- but maybe not mentally- present, they will somehow absorb the skills needed for their profession. To truly become competent, people need to really be mentally present in school and take control of their education. It is important to be active in the classroom and do whatever it takes. When it comes to learning skills for a profession, it's no longer about making a grade, but about learning what needs to be learned in order to be successful at one's job.
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