The projects I hated most in middle school and high school involved "current events". We had to cut out an article and research in detail what was going on in that area. I did this often, and never understood at the time why this was important.

Fast forward a number of years: I read the paper regularly and am advised of national, local, and state news. I read many articles/blogs/books about my industry. I have been quoted as a subject matter expert because of my vast knowledge of the employment arena, both on a national and local level. I am aware of employment and unemployment trends, fair market value for salaries, and have extensive resources on how to rapidly find information.

Moments ago, I spoke with a student who graduated in Healthcare Management. She had no understanding of last week's healthcare reform bill that the Supreme Court had passed. She had not heard of Occupy Wall Street. I advised her that in order to be a good manager and employee, she needs to be aware of what is going on in the local market.

I am now grateful for those current events projects, because they taught me the importance of gaining knowledge of what is going on around you. Be a subject matter expert. Add value to your employer or potential employer!