Professional development is offered as a perk at many companies so their employees continue to grow their skills. Whether it is an annual conference or several training seminars, employees often have several opportunities to continue their development.
Professional Development – Is It Worth It?
Most times, we are told about the professional development opportunities when we are first hired. But, after time, do we take advantage of them? When the classes come up do we feel that we’re too busy to take a day off just to learn a few new things? Do we feel like we will be “punished” for going to a training seminar by having to work weekends to make up the work that we missed?
While you may have to work extra hours to make-up for the missed work, think through the long-term benefits of the training. This advice can apply anytime you have to make a trade-off between short-term goals and long-term aspirations. Ask yourself the following:
- What skills will you learn?
- Can you apply them directly to this job?
- Can you apply them to other jobs?
- Will they make you a more valuable employee to the company (especially around performance review time)?
- Will they allow you to move to the next position you were striving for?
- Will the new skills make you a highly sought after candidate for a new job at a new company?
Professional Development Shouldn’t Stop
Once we graduate from college, our learning shouldn’t stop. Continuous learning can benefit us in many ways. Whether you are taking a class to learn new skills or reading an industry blog to find out where your industry is headed, we can utilize this knowledge in our career development. This knowledge and these skills can set us up for success in our current job or close the gap on the skills we need for a promotion.
Take an inventory of what you are doing to learn new information or skills: reading industry publications/websites, taking training courses, attending annual conferences, attending lunch-and-learn meetings, joining networking groups, volunteering, etc.
Once you have a grasp of what you are doing, ask yourself – what should you be doing? Make a plan to fill in some of those gaps in your current professional development plan. You will have to make some short-term sacrifices but taking this action now will only benefit you in the future.
Tell us about your career development plans in the comments section below. What has helped your career the most?