5 Ways to Work on Professional Development Outside of Work
Whether you’re on a clear path towards your career goals or you’re unsure what’s next for you, professional development remains a critical element for professional success and career longevity. While many workplaces these days encourage and offer development opportunities for employees, many still don’t. But that need not stop you. Here are 5 ways you can take your career by the horns and advance your professional offering by pursuing development activities outside of the workplace.
Formal and informal courses
“Once you stop learning, you start dying” – Albert Einstein
The availability and accessibility of online resources have made it easier than ever to pursue formal and informal learning opportunities when and where it suits. While the MBA is considered the ultimate professional development activity, it’s important that any activity aligns with your end goal. Should a short course be your preference, consider an easily accessible resource such as Lynda.com. The solution from LinkedIn offers thousands of video courses and tutorials in everything from business and career development, to communication skills and creative endeavours.
Network in-person and online
Networking initiatives and events can certainly be intimidating for people new to the game, but when done well, face to face networking can be a powerful tool in forging a successful career. You may or may not reap immediate benefits from networking, but it can prove its value throughout your career.
Do your research and find out if there are any events coming up specific to your industry – face to face and online. Join relevant online communities such as LinkedIn groups, and if you have studied, ensure to pay attention to activities and events being run for alumni. For those earlier in their career, consider a young professionals networking event where you can meet new people from a range of industries and backgrounds.
Volunteer your time
There are some very rewarding volunteer opportunities out there. Not-for-profits and community initiatives are a great place to start. Is there a cause you’re particularly passionate about? Offering your skills for a few hours a week can put you in contact with other people who are equally passionate, and can help develop your interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence.
Involvement in startups in the ‘boot strap’ stage can also be particularly rewarding, and are known to sometimes offer equity rather than salary to people offering their services. If the company gets off the ground, it can provide far more lucrative than an hourly wage.
Finding a mentor isn’t always as simple as it might seem, but it can be a very valuable experience. Start by looking to people you already know and have an existing relationship with that you believe have relevant knowledge and experience to share.
Consider also whether becoming a mentor to someone just starting out in your field would suit you. This is something that will take time out of your schedule, but you will learn about yourself, step out of your comfort zone and fine-tune your leadership qualities.
You know more than you may give yourself credit for. Writing out experiences and lessons you’ve learned (even if just for yourself) reinforces your wisdom and teaches you more about what you already know. Capture questions and ideas that arise from conversations and make a ritual of occasionally answering them in writing. You’ll be amazed at how much you know and how capable you are of teaching.
Share your thoughts
Whether you’re looking to re-tune your career, stay up to date in your industry or seek a new role or path, what opportunities have you pursued for professional development? Comment to share your thoughts and add to our list.
This article was written by Tanya Ashworth-Keppel and Megan Baker on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. The following sources were used to compile this article: Lynda, Entrepreneur and Forbes.