Friday, March 14, 2014

(Academic and Motivational Professional Education and Development)

But I don’t have time to attend a seminar or go to a conference!
Our department is cutting our budget……….. AGAIN!
Is it really that important?

Above are the excuses that often accompany invitations to conferences, seminars and other professional development opportunities that come your way every month.
Instead, the following questions are what ought to be asked of yourself and your supervisor:

How can I improve my skills and raise the bar in my job if I don’t add new skills to my ability to help my department?
Would our budget allow for necessary upgrades to technology? If so, am I less important than the technology we use?
Am I working harder instead of working smarter?

If you are a goal setter, what are your goals and how do you intend to get there? If you’re not one of THOSE people, how do you go about learning any new skill? Sometimes it’s online training, sometimes it’s taking a class, right? As a kid or a parent, we’ve all said or heard the phrase “practice, practice, practice.” But practice what? We had to learn it first, and that meant getting the education we needed to understand what it was we needed to practice and how. Why is it that when we become “adults,” we forget that very fundamental process in learning and think we know it all when we know that no one does know it all?

In 2012, Deloitte, a leading consulting company, did the unthinkable in a downturned economy. They invested in professional development tools for their employees despite the economic challenges in order to come out on top in their field when the economy turned around. They saw it as necessary as upgrading their security and technology.

You were hired because you are a valuable asset to your organization. To remain a valuable asset, you need to consistently take stock in what you have to offer and create a check list of skills to add to your cadre of abilities. What is it that you need to learn to take yourself to the next level? What is the next level? It’s okay if you don’t know. Find out through professional networks and colleagues. That’s where networking pays off in spades!

How do you go about getting AMPED? This is where no size fits all. Don’t start with time and cost, because you will inevitably sell yourself short and wind up with less than desired achievements. Rather, start with the skill set you wish to develop and seek out the closest match to your needs. Being aware of the fact that not all budgets are created equal, find other resources for paying for more expensive AMPED opportunities. Remember the adage “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Now, more than ever, there are scholarships and work reimbursements from HR and various other sources. Check them out! Many professional development chapters offer scholarships and assistance to those organizations that are struggling the most. ALWAYS ask about discounts! It never hurts to find out if there are ways to use discounts to pay for things.

When you think about the opportunities that are offered to you, keep in mind these questions: How can I personally connect to other attendees and those who are educating me? Will there be time to network and build my community of colleagues outside my office? How can I use the skills I learn to assist my organization?

Building your community of colleagues is essential in keeping yourself on the road to continual improvement. It’s like having a swimming buddy. The deeper you get into building your network, the more you’re surrounded by professionals and leaders in your field and the more skilled you will become at navigating your future.

Once you’ve developed your plan of action and where to invest your dollars to guide your future, step out and get…………………… AMPED!

Writer’s personal preference for getting AMPED:
  • APRA International Conference
  • APRA-Carolinas and APRA-VA chapter meetings that involve networking time as well as education
  • One-on-one collegial meetings that happen ad-hoc

This post was written by Tracey Martin, APRA-Carolinas board member and Prospect & Research Coordinator for Duke University's The Fuqua School of Business.

1 comment:

  1. The question of whether upgrading technology is more important than investing in improving our skills is right on target! We (and our skills of analysis) are the most valuable resource in our offices.