Whether you are looking for a job, just starting with your first big job, or you are a seasoned professional, it’s important to continue to explore personal and professional development opportunities.
Professionally speaking, you become increasingly valuable to your employer if you learn new skills, take some managed risks, and push yourself to take on training that positions you to best serve yoru clients, your customers and your co-workers. Of critical importance then, is to do some long term thinking about the direction in which you want to move professionally, determine a long term career goal, and then work backwards from where you want to be to where you are today. What professional development will be required along the way to position yourself to compete when the opening arises? Who offers the training opportunities, and when are they scheduled? Knowing where they are offered, how long the training period is, and at what cost, can help you to plan out your strategy.
One way to make an informed professional development plan, is to seek out the advice of Senior personnel including perhaps your immediate Supervisor, a District Manager, an HR Specialist etc. The advantage in bringing in these people is that when you have shared your plans and direction, you may receive a greater understanding and ultimately approval when you are competing with others for your companies scarce training dollars. For example, if two people are both putting their names forward to attend a conference, you can bet Management might be weighing some factors to determine who to send. Do they send the person who wants to attend something because they haven’t been to anything in awhile and they heard there’s a fantastic social activity planned, or do they send the other person because it fits perfectly with their professional development plan? There are other factors to consider of course, but you can’t deny that the above thinking doesn’t occur.
Personal development is equally important but for different reasons. When you seek out some course of interest that will nurture your personal side, such as pottery classes, or photography classes, you’re enriching yourself. The benefit of this enrichment is long lasting, immediate and something to look forward to perhaps once or twice a week. By stimulating your personal life and taking something enjoyable, you’ll also find you may be more productive at work. How? You’ll have things to talk about around the old water cooler with your co-workers, and you may find others with interests alike your own. This can in turn nurture working relationships, improving your networking skills. You may go from a conversation with someone over your shared interest in fly fishing, to learning of a business opportunity, a job prospect, or opportunities in other departments of your organization.
Ongoing learning also keeps your brain stimulated, may ward off Alzeimers, and may just get you off the couch in the evenings too improving your health. Another benefit of ongoing learning is that you remain relevant to those you work for. If for example, as a Computer Technician, you last took a class when Atari was launched, well…need I say more? (For those of you who are too young to remember Atari, my point is made!)
So get out your companies training calendar, go online and check out university and college program brochures, and your area’s Municipal recreation brochure. What interests you? Badminton? Guitar? Swimming lessons? Conflict Resolution? Whatever it is, consider making the investment. No matter the cost, ANY investment you make in yourself will be with you everyday, instead the load of change you sunk into that 2000 Ibs of steel in your driveway that will end up in the scrap yard in about 7 years or so.