The Professional Development Seminar gives co-op students a chance to learn and discuss workplace issues.
Meaghan Haugh

Mark Kasrel (back row, third from left) with students in the professional development seminar.

By the time Rider Accounting students have reached their junior years or the end of the Master of Accountancy program, they are well equipped with the accounting methods and techniques they’ll need to begin internships and co-ops. Once on the job, however, students might encounter situations not necessarily taught in a formal classroom setting. For example, a veteran employee refuses to learn a new program because he or she feels the old way is more efficient, or an employee receives different expectations from top management.

In response, the Accounting department created a course four years ago in order to address such issues in the workplace. Accounting students in co-ops must complete the nine-credit program, which includes six credits for the work experience and three credits for the companion course, IND-398: Professional Development Seminar, taught by Mark Kasrel, an Executive-in-Residence Harper Professor in the College of Business Administration. The course is offered once in the fall as an evening class and twice in the spring as a day class and evening class. Class sizes are usually between 13 and 15 students.

“Two-thirds of a person’s professional success is not based on technical skills. It has to do with emotional intelligence and soft skills,” Kasrel explained.

Course topics include the regulation of your own emotions and self-awareness; conflict management and resolution; how to work individually and on a team; presentation skills; generational workforce and ethnicity; differences between the male and female brain; sleep architecture; the myth of multitasking; work/life balance; how to tolerate stress; and giving and receiving criticism.

The course consists of discussions, current articles, videos and experiential exercises. At the beginning of each class, students share their week in review, including professional and personal challenges that they faced.

“It hasn’t turned into Dr. Phil, but it’s much different than what you get in a traditional classroom setting,” Kasrel said. “The other goal of the course is to truly have the students realize that they have something to contribute. Through exercises, they are able to realize their strengths and what they can bring to the table.”

Kasrel, who is also director of Corporate Outreach for EXCEED (EXecutive CEnter for Education and Development) at Rider, is a licensed professional counselor and business consultant.

“Having been in the business world for 25-plus years, I absolutely believe that this course gives Rider students a competitive edge in a highly technical field,” Kasrel said.

Accounting major Iram Khan ’12 took the course last spring while working the Central Nervous System market finance co-op for the pharmaceutical division of Johnson & Johnson.

“After working an eight-hour work day, this was the one class I looked forward to because it was a discussion-based class. We talked about things that went on at work and if there were ever any problems, we discussed how to go about solving them in class,” Khan said. “This course really helped enhance my presentation skills and my communication skills. It also taught us how to deal with conflicts at work and how to maintain a work-school-life balance.”

IND-398: Professional Development Seminar is offered once in the fall as an evening class and twice in the spring as a day class and evening class. For more information, please contact Dr. Marge O’Reilly-Allen, director of the Accounting Internship, [email protected], or Anne Mandel, CBA Career Placement Director, [email protected].