By DeVry University
Earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree can mark one of the most exciting times in your life. It can open opportunities for personal and professional growth by giving you a chance to ask questions, learn from experienced professors and network with a diverse group of peers. It’s an opportunity to fully focus on developing yourself.
Since all students approach education differently, we’ve asked three DeVry students and alumni who have exceled in their studies and career to share the things that helped them achieve their goals. Here are some of their professional and personal growth tips for students:
1. Give Yourself Room to Explore and Change in Life
Despite the common expectation that students should know what major they’d like to pursue, or have every aspect of their future planned, sometimes it’s OK to not know exactly what you want. You’re allowed to simply follow the curiosities, goals and interests that you have right now.
This is the philosophy that has allowed Alek Pirkhalo, a graduate of DeVry University’s Bachelor’s in Engineering Technology - Electronics degree program, to never limit himself as a student or professional.
“After I left DeVry, I changed my professional focus several times,” Pirkhalo says. “I went to school for electronics so at first I worked as a mechanical engineer. I tried different business ventures that didn’t pan out and later ended up working in IT.”
Today, he successfully operates Infiniwiz, an IT tech business, but his journey from DeVry to entrepreneurship was filled with twists and turns. In fact, it wasn’t until he left college and returned a few years later that his motivation really kicked in. That’s why one of Pirkhalo’s personal growth tips for students is to stay nimble and be patient with yourself. “Follow your passions first,” he says, “Because you can always grow from your passions regardless of what you pursue next.”
If you already know what your next move is, great— but if you don’t, avoid letting indecision hinder you from trying new things. Give yourself room to explore and grow as you gain life experience and discover what truly excites you.
2. Develop Your Soft Skills
While it’s great to explore your passions over time, Pirkhalo still encourages you to develop a core set of soft skills to enhance your ability to think critically and make effective decisions. These skills can be transferable to different roles or industries you may work in, so it’s worthwhile to develop them.
“Soft skills like communication and project management are handy,” Pirkhalo says, “I developed strong communication and project management skills at DeVry, which helped me stay organized and more grounded in my decisions, especially when I decided to start my own business.”
3. Embrace Self-improvement—even Through Uncertainty
There will always be times in life when you feel some anxiety—take a global pandemic, for example—but try not to let events beyond your control impede your own goals and growth.
“I remember my economics professor told us that he believes there’s never a better time to improve yourself than during recession and I couldn’t agree more,” says James Clark, a student in DeVry University’s Keller Graduate School of Management. “You’re never going to be regretful about improving yourself and there’s no better time to do so than right now.”
Despite the global impact of Covid-19, Clark has continued to meet his goal of maintaining a 4.0 GPA while earning a Human Resources MBA specialization. He hasn’t let the pandemic slow him down, which is why one of his personal growth tips for students is to adapt a similar speed in your pursuits.
Is there a language you’ve wanted to learn? A new class you’d like to take? Fitness goals you want to accomplish?
Now is the time to focus on those goals and pace yourself for progress, Clark advises: “I don’t know what will happen tomorrow, but I do know that every single morning I wake up and try to make myself a better person than I was the day before—and if I do that every day, two things will happen: I’m going to get better and I’m probably going to become a good person. If I can say I did those two things, I’ll be happy with my life.”
4. Keep a Positive Mindset—view Life As an Adventure
Similar to pursuing one’s goals, keeping a positive mindset can also improve how well you manage stress during uncertainty, says DeVry Alum, Marco Ruiz, who found himself relocating across the country to start a new job shortly after earning his bachelor’s degree in business.
Ruiz was offered a job with Lowes corporation, which required him to relocate his entire family from Texas to North Carolina during a pandemic with very little time.
How did he do it? Simply put: he embraced the change and saw it as one big adventure.
“I went back to school when I was 40 and my age never stopped me,” Ruiz says. “I have always tried to improve the quality of my life no matter what because every day has another sunset. Every day offers a new opportunity. Every day is a new adventure.”