Double Duty: Turn Projects into Opportunities

Published: Friday, November 18, 2016 by Kate M. Spaulding

My fellow students, the end is nigh. Of course, I’m referring to the end of the semester. The time for final projects and papers is upon us, which is good news because that means classes are almost over, buuut less good news because it means we have to stop procrastinating and actually do them.

If you’re lucky, you might have your choice of final assignments. For instance, you may be able to decide between writing a paper, recording a 5-minute presentation, or creating a packet of materials. When I took INFO 244, we could create a training packet, and a friend in INFO 287 developed marketing brochures.

The end of the semester is the perfect opportunity to think about how to make your coursework work for you. It’s a smart idea to approach the final assignment with an eye towards your eportfolio, of course, but you should also consider your career. Think about what topics and skills you want to learn or show off to your future employers.

Unless you are aiming to get yourself published, a paper holds limited long term value. You write it, it gets graded, and you file it away. But imagine that you create a Prezi instead. When you’re done, you have a finished product you can show off on LinkedIn, your personal website, and to hiring managers. That one assignment shows off your ability to communicate effectively, think critically, organize information, present, and instruct. It also demonstrates your facility with the Prezi software in particular and your comfort with technology more generally.

Beyond the final product, you may also be able to determine the topic to some degree. If so, research a topic you want to know more about or be seen as someone interested in or knowledgeable about that topic. For example, if your goal is to use your degree to work at a pharmaceutical company, write about a relevant issue. Then you have a marketable product that also speaks directly to the industry you’re aiming for.

So as we enter the home stretch, choose wisely, my friends. Fulfilling an assignment in a way that also sets you up for career success will get you to the head of the class every time.

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