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How to Develop Professional Skills in Your Degree Program - AIU

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How to Develop
Professional Skills
in Your Degree Program
Your Guide to Pursuing a Future-focused Education
When you decide to pursue an education, you have plenty of things to consider: degree programs, schools, courses,
instructors, facilities, tuition, start dates. But when you’re preparing for your education—and preparing for your
career—there’s one other thing you should keep in mind: skills.
If your top priority is to prepare for new professional opportunities, then you should start asking questions about skills.
Which skills can certain degree programs help you develop? Which skills are needed to pursue specific paths in the
industry? By thinking hard about skill development, you can keep your future in perspective while you make important
decisions about your education. Please contact AIU if you want help finding the path that could be right for you.
Guide to Developing Professional Skills
Start Developing Your Skills
So why is it so important to focus on skills? Well, the skills you could develop in school demonstrate your knowledge
about a certain industry and indicate that you’re ready to pursue industry opportunities. Focusing on skills can ensure
that what you’re learning now helps you prepare for the future
Ready to start building your skill set? American InterContinental University (AIU) has compiled a guide that’s designed
to help you develop skills that could apply to the workplace.
To give you an idea of the types of skills you could develop, we’ve outlined some examples from disciplines including:
• Business
• Information Technology
• Criminal Justice
• Design
While you read through this Guide to Developing Professional Skills, keep an eye out for our *Skill-Building Tips,
which offer you general advice for skill development.
Want to plan for the future by figuring out which skills you need? Use our Skill-Building Checklist at the end of this
guide. This checklist allows you to list the skills you need and rate your progress as you work to improve them.
Contact us today for more information about our skill-focused degree programs and how they can help you along your
professional path.
Business Skills
Some skills you could develop in a business degree
program include:
• Technology Management
• Project Management
• Teamwork and Team-building
• Leadership
• Decision-making
• Ethical Thinking
• Communication
• Accounting
• Marketing
• Probability and Statistics
*Skill-Building Tip: Know the difference between hard skills and soft
skills. Hard skills don’t change based on the setting. For example,
some hard business skills are accounting and marketing. All degree
programs typically address these types of specialized skills.
Soft skills, on the other hand, change depending on the context, and
they rely heavily on your emotional and social intelligence. They are
used in every discipline, and some soft skills that are particularly
important in business include communication, leadership, and
teamwork. Soft skills aren’t taught formally, so you have to develop
them through your own experience. While you pursue your education,
just make sure you focus on developing soft skills as well as hard
Continued on Pg. 3
Information Technology Skills
The IT skills you could develop include:
• Database Management
• Troubleshooting
• Security Management
• Debugging
• Network Administration
• Installation
• Computer System Design and
• Configuration
• Upgrading
• Application Development
*Skill-Building Tip: Set goals. You
can only develop the right skills if you
know which ones are needed to pursue
certain professional opportunities. Start
by investigating different career paths in
your field. Once you know which areas
interest you, you can research the skills
you may need to qualify for those paths.
Next, set goals for your skill
development. Planning is essential when
it comes to effectively developing skills,
so use the Skill-Building Checklist at the
end of this guide to stay on track.
Criminal Justice Skills
Some skills you could develop by pursuing a criminal justice degree include:
• Case Management
• Interviewing and Interrogation
• Conflict Resolution and Stress
• Crime Scene Management
• Evidence Examination and
• Addiction Diagnosis and Treatment Evaluation
• Reporting and Documentation
• Emergency Planning and Response
• Crisis Management Investigation
*Skill-Building Tip: Learn outside of the
classroom. For example, join a club or
pursue an internship in your field. Don’t
expect to develop exceptional skills just
by keeping up with your classes. While
a quality degree program will help you
develop most of the skills you need, you
still have to be proactive by finding other
ways to hone your skills.
Design Skills
The skills you could develop by studying Fashion Design, Interior Design,
Visual Communication, or Film include:
• Creativity
• Communication and Presentation
Research and Planning
• Critical-thinking, Analysis, and
• Time and Resource Management
• Reflection and Evaluation
• Budgeting
• Software Application
• Goal-setting
• Marketing and Promotional
*Skill-Building Tip: ask questions.
Throughout your search for the right
degree program, ask questions about
everything—courses, curriculums,
instructors, and facilities—to better
understand your opportunities to
develop skills in a particular degree
program. Don’t hesitate to seek help
from admissions advisors by live chat,
email, or phone.
Continued on Pg. 4
Skill-Building Checklist
After reading this guide, we hope you have a better idea of the types of skills you can develop in a degree program.
Now is a great time to start building your skill set by filling out the Skill-Building Checklist below.
Skill-Building Checklist
Rate your skills
Soft Skills
Rate Yourself
from 1-5
Hard Skills
Fill in the skills you
want to develop
(1 = Unsatisfactory,
5 = Excellent)
1. Leadership
2. Teamwork
3. Interpersonal
4. Communication
5. Time Management
6. Organization
7. Responsibility
8. Research and Planning
9. Negotiation
10. Resilience
Total Score
Rate Yourself
from 1-5
(1 = Unsatisfactory,
5 = Excellent)
Total Score
Your Rating
Add up all of your scores
Under 25: You are in Stage 1, the earliest stage of skill development. Focus on gaining more experience inside and out of
the classroom to build your skill set.
25 to 35: You are in Stage 2 of skill development. Identify additional methods to develop your skills, such as reading
industry blogs or seeking advice from an instructor.
35 to 50: You are in the third and final stage of skill development. Continue to spend time on skill-building methods you
have identified and keep finding new ways to sharpen your skills. The higher your score, the better prepared you could be
for new professional opportunities.
About American Intercontinental University
At AIU, it’s easy to find a program you’re passionate about. Our programs in Information Technology, Business, Criminal
Justice, and Design offer industry-focused training designed to help you build the skills you need to pursue your goals.
Contact us today if you want to learn more about our diverse degree programs.
American InterContinental University cannot guarantee employment or salary. Not all programs are available to residents of all states. Find disclosures on graduation rates, student
financial obligations and more at
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