What is occupational well-being?


Occupational well-being involves the ability to achieve a healthy work-life balance, manage workplace stress and build relationships with bosses and coworkers while integrating the commitment to your occupation into a lifestyle that is both satisfying and rewarding.

This dimension of well-being also involves actively seeking out professional development opportunities and developing functional skills that will transfer into the workplace, commonly referred to as “transferable skills.”

“On the student level, occupational well-being is really about learning more about your job and learning about how those transferable skills can contribute to that,” Marie VanBuskirk, Coordinator of Student Development at University Recreation and Well-Being, said. “On the professional level, it’s really about learning something new, what the hot topics are and what the next  skill set  is needed  in your line of work so that you can bring that back and really challenge yourself to make your department/ or company better.”

Transferable skills, which VanBuskirk emphasized the importance of, are the skills that can be taken from one occupation to the next. For example, she explained, if you’re a lifeguard and want to be an accountant, how can the skills you have learned and perform as a lifeguard be applied to a profession in accounting? These skills include things like teamwork and attention to detail and being able to bring attention to them will help you stand out among the competition.

“You need to bring other skills to the table to really be a competitive candidate,” VanBuskirk said. “Education is not just about getting a degree. It’s all the other skills you’re building along the way too.”  

Since a career takes up so much time in one’s life, it’s also important to explore many options and find the career that will be enjoyable to spend a large amount of time doing. Occupational Well-being is really about finding a career that will both challenge you and allow balance in your life.

VanBuskirk said that college students can explore their career field by utilizing resources in the University’s Career Service Department and learning more about their major during their first two years here. As graduation approaches, students can continue career exploration by connecting with alumni in their respective fields, job shadowing and completing internships.

The Rec Center promotes occupational well-being in many ways, including educating student employees about personal and job-related safety and providing them with opportunities to get a variety of certifications, emphasizing the importance of transferable skills, offering career and professional development opportunities/internships and being a resource for student and employee well-being. The department also values growth, change and goal setting.

Programs like Recreation and Leadership Council (RLC), the Emerging Recreation Leadership program and the Student Professional Development Sessions are additional opportunities for members of the campus community to enhance their occupational well-being.

RLC is a student organization whose mission is to provide members with quality leadership, networking and professional development opportunities both in and out of the Rec Center.

The Emerging Recreation and Leadership program just began its first official year and provides 40 elite freshmen and sophomore OU students (as well as juniors who haven’t been in leadership positions at the college level) with the opportunity to connect with successful alumni, build leadership skills, work in groups on case studies facilitated by OU alumni and complete community service programs.

Professional Development Sessions are promoted throughout all of student affairs, according to VanBurskirk, and they offer all students on campus the opportunity to hear from professionals about certain topics in three main areas – leadership, career branding and well-being. Students can register to attend a session on by going to the Oakland University Student Affairs webpage, and clicking in the SPD icon.


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