Education is liberating in many ways. Among other things, to be educated is to become a careful and flexible thinker. Completing an undergraduate or graduate degree means you have more knowledge and skills than you did before you entered your program of study.
From a practical standpoint, your degree tells the world quite a bit. First, it is proof that you are diligent enough to persevere to completion. Second, it reflects training by recognized professionals in your field. Third, it establishes that you are capable of interacting meaningfully with others who are similarly trained – and even many who are not. According to a U.S. Department of Education report, those with a college degree earn 66% more than those without one. A Eurostat report found that degree holders had better employment success than the less educated. So, how do you let the world know all about you? In other words, how do you use your digital degree to expand your professional network and directly impact your organization and career?
Use What You’ve Learned and Created
You have a portfolio, an entire program’s worth of essays, projects, and major thesis as calling cards. Use these as ways to introduce yourself to people in your field. You can also use them as foundations for further work, expanding on ideas as you interact with people in your organization and, more broadly, your field. It’s something like developing a living resume, not simply a listing of accomplishments since these works actually show what you have accomplished.
You don’t have to wait until you graduate to implement what you’re learning. Many students are already engaged in a profession while earning an online degree. Advancing your professional acumen and career opportunities are often terrific reasons for enrolling in an online program. These experiences can be complementary. For example, coursework projects and papers can focus on real-world applications, often because the aim of such programs is to help students put classroom ideas into practice.
Don’t Forget Who Helped You Along the Way
The University of Europe Laureate Digital, for example, is structured around the idea of global social networks, both for lifelong learning and professional enhancement. One of many benefits of a well-structured institution is its facility with supporting your professional development during, and after, your program.
Working closely with professors and fellow students who share academic and professional interests naturally leads to strong and lasting bonds. Once you complete your degree, you’ll rely on those connections for career support and advancement. Consider, for example, asking for a LinkedIn endorsement or referral, and give them in return.
Take Advantage of Your Digital Savvy
Completing a digital degree at an institution committed to cutting edge educational technology means you have the technical skills to leverage what the internet has to offer. You’ve interacted with your professors and classmates in a variety of media, from chat rooms to live video conferencing. That means you not only know how to use the technology, but also the unique communication skills required. This kind of experience is directly transferable to the working world – from an understanding of email etiquette to a knowledge the best apps and programs to drive productivity and boost efficiency.
When you join social networking sites, such as LinkedIn, you’ll find your digital skills are exceptionally handy. That’s because, as user-friendly as these sites tend to be, using them to their full potential to put your best foot forward is an art in itself. What and how you present yourself online speaks volumes. This is particularly important in a world where our online interactions are almost invariably asynchronous and disembodied. Understanding how to present yourself online can be very advantageous to your professional life. This might be thanks to displaying eloquence or conciseness in your language or giving as much detail about your achievements and experience as possible in a clear and digestible way.
Find Yourself Out There
There are most likely few professional organizations and societies that don’t have an online presence. Find yours, and connect. Organizational membership often requires some sort of certification, and your degree will likely be your entrance ticket. Indeed, your digital degree is like a letter of introduction – it’s a seal of approval automatically respected by these organizations, even before you begin interacting with anyone. From there, you can show in more depth who you are, and in ways that benefit your career or your professional organization.
Social media groups are also excellent connection resources. Whether it’s Facebook, LinkedIn, or a site devoted to your field, joining informal professional groups is another great way to make new connections and keep your finger on the pulse of your profession. Many of these groups will announce face-to-face and online networking events, which provide further opportunities to enhance your career or organizational advancement. We are now deep in the so-called information age, which, along with uncovering new problems to be solved, is the fuel for innovation. Interacting with colleagues and others is essential to engaging in this process.
Don’t Forget to Do Some Good
Volunteering as a mentor or in some other capacity is a win-win. You get to do some good, and in return, you’ll make new friends and contacts. Because you have a degree in-hand, you can likely devote some of your time to volunteering in your field. Of course, it just may be that volunteering for a good cause that’s unrelated to your work is just as rewarding. There are organizations such as Horsesmouth and Brightside that can use your prodigious skills.
These skills are directly related to your digital degree. After all, the sequence of content knowledge acquisition, skill development, and dispositional developments are all captured in your academic certification. When you volunteer, at the very least, you’re bringing what your degree stands for to the table.