It’s Really Not Just for Upperclassmen

If you’re reading this post, you’ve probably already experienced the following: within days of stepping on campus your freshman year, you were bombarded with suggestions about your professional career, despite that fact that it is almost four years away. From choosing a major to networking, there is so much talk about professional development before graduation that many freshman simply avoid the topic altogether and adopt the attitude, “PD isn’t something I need to worry about – I’m only a freshman.”

I had a similar mindset back in August – I was overwhelmed by the prospect of preparing for adulthood and, possibly even more so, was intimidated by the thought of engaging in professional development with sophomores and upperclassmen who more experienced than myself. A couple of weeks ago I attended the ICE center’s IdeaBounce, however, and it changed the way I thought about PD.

The November 19, 2014 IdeaBounce was a competition between the VSB and College of Engineering freshmen. Each team had 90 seconds to pitch a product or business idea, complete with a description of it, its target market, and what assistance, financial or technical, the team might need along the way. I must admit that before the event, I viewed the event as more of an assignment than a form of professional development. Once I arrived and the event got underway, however, I realized that the ICE Challenge was actually a convincing example of the power and importance of PD, even for freshmen.

The first thing I noticed as I scanned the program was the variety of ideas that students had developed. There were apps, devices, and services targeted to a wide range of markets, many of which my team hadn’t even considered when developing our product. But what was even more powerful for me was the realization that all of the ideas had been created by freshmen just like myself, freshmen who probably felt the same mixture of excitement and stress when they thought about the future, many of whom were probably participating in one of their first truly interactive PD experiences just as I was. To give you an idea, I here’s the link to the IdeaBounce page – keep in mind, every single idea was developed by a team of freshmen.

Another thing I discovered at the IdeaBounce was the vast network of resources Villanova offers its students, through the Office for Experiential Education, the Clay Center, and more. Throughout the program, an ICE Center representative highlighted various opportunities going on over the course of the next semester, including a $10,000 prize for students who win an entrepreneurial competition. In addition, the judges offered feedback to each and every team that presented at the event; therefore, regardless of their performance, students were able to learn what went well and what they should improve on.

So what should you, an aspiring VSB graduate, take away from my experience?

  1. If you’re a freshman, it’s not too early to get started on PD
  2. The first step is always the hardest. Once you take it, you’ll gain confidence in yourself, I promise.
  3. Villanova wants you to succeed, but you have to put in effort in order to benefit. To help you out, here’s the link to the Clay Center website, where they post all of the PD events. Now all you have to do is show up, and you’re on the road to becoming a professional!
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