Tips on Professional Development

SCC Professional DevelopmentWhen people ask if they need to take Professional Development, they often have a very narrow definition of what that actually encompasses. You don’t get an A+ or graduate in the 90th percentile of Professional Development. It’s not a goal or an objective; it is a path that leads to greater competence, increased skill, and improved employability.

If you are engaged in your job, and you’re improving your skill set on a daily basis, then you are participating in Professional Development. It’s all about taking ownership of your career and being aware of the changing conditions in the marketplace. It is your responsibility to keep your skills up to date. If you’re skills and knowledge are not relevant and current, you’ll be replaced by someone who made the effort to remain competitive.

Making an effort to help yourself grow professionally will help you succeed, both in the short term and in the long term. And if you don’t learn new skills and acquire new knowledge and experience, you’re likely to fall behind your peers, which could be detrimental when you look to change positions—Alexis Grant

Many Forms of Professional Development

Document everything. If you take a course that increases your competency, make sure you have a copy of the degree, the certificate, or at the very least, instructions on how to locate them upon need. It’s probably best to create a portfolio of your professional activities. That portfolio would look very nice indeed on your own personal website, where you can create the display format, and then add commentary to emphasize the importance of particular achievements.

That’s not the extent of it. Courses, degrees, and certifications are terrific and are what most people think of when they think of development. You, however, are smarter than that. You recognize that the department next door, that you’ve never been in, presents an opportunity to increase your knowledge and broaden your insights.

If you’ve got a moment, drop by for a visit; make some inquiries; see if somebody there might benefit from your expertise, or be willing to explain their process. If their department has a better strategy or technique for a particular type of problem, maybe you can adopt it for your own, while sharing some of your own solutions that might help them out.

Remain Current in Field

Keeping apprised of what is happening within your field allows you to recognize opportunities to grow. That keeps you on top of changes in technology and how it will affect society, giving you the insight to spot trends sooner, which makes you more effective.

Enhanced awareness makes you stand out as a leader with vision; coworkers begin to look to you as an example. This, in itself, is very rewarding, but the practical upshot of all this is that it keeps your employability level high. You become the go-to person, the expert, an authority… All because you took a few minutes to notice what was going on around you and paying attention.

Learning Leads to More Learning

SCC Learning leads to more learningProfessional Development is cyclic and compounds on itself. Once you learn or achieve a particular topic, the next one might come easier or you may be more interested in it. Did you learn to speak Mandarin? OK, now learn to speak French, or Japanese, or Russian. Every time you learn a language the next one becomes easier. Stay on the lookout for new, useful things to learn.

The Source

Regulatory bodies determine that professional development is not optional for some people, such as doctors, nurses, engineers, teachers, geoscientists and astronauts. They must participate or risk losing their certification.

For many others, although optional, there are professional certifications available. Non-certified professional development learning (such as languages) can be equally valuable, as can receiving coaching, providing mentoring, or like a young lawyer, providing pro bono consultation at a legal aid clinic.

Nowadays there are even opportunities to obtain professional development certifications online, such as teachers collecting their CEUs (Continuing Education Units) to maintain their certifications. You can even study for an MBA online, if you think that is the route to go.

The key to effective goal setting is making goals personal. Any fitness expert will tell you that it’s not enough to want to be healthier; it’s much more effective to envision what that means to you individually, whether that’s fitting into your jeans or being fit enough to run a 5K.— Jason Lange

In-house certifications are sometimes required by a particular company. These are not necessarily transferable, nor are they considered equivalent outside of that particular company in many cases, but if you plan to stay with the company for a lengthy period of time, their certifications have the advantage of generally being free.

The concept of professional development may have arisen in 1857, and only taken 100 years to finally enter our educational system in 1960, but it has definitely gained traction since then.

Professional development isn’t a course you can take, or a degree you can obtain. It is a purely personal perception that life is interesting enough and warrants enough of your attention to learn more about it; to increase your skill and knowledge; to do more than passively observe the world going by.

It also (incidentally) may garner you some wealth, prestige, or acclaim along the way, which may be all the reward you need. But you will still be a better person for it.

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