Resources for professional development are available in many locations. Local colleges, technical schools, and public libraries offer short and long-term programs to improve professional skills. The Internet is another source of educational opportunities, featuring blogs devoted to professional development and improving business skills. Once you know what you want to study, it’s time to create a development plan that meets your needs. Here are some ideas that will help you get started:
What Do You Know?
Determine what you know and what you want to learn. Create a list of skills you use every day and identify the skills you want to improve. If your goal is career advancement, review job descriptions that interest you and add the required skills to your list.
How Will You Learn?
There are lots of resources available to you when you begin studying: books, continuing education, online courses, and more. Choose the type of learning that works best for you.
Time and Money
Review your daily, weekly, and monthly schedule and reserve time for professional development. Even a small amount of time devoted to reading a new book will improve your abilities over time. If you’re interested in taking a class, you should create a realistic budget and start saving now.
Stay on Track
Track your progress as you follow your professional development plan. Keep a journal, and record the books you read and classes you attended. Include your big and small victories; any progress is good progress. Take notes on the subject areas that require more training.
Find a Mentor
A mentor is someone in your profession with greater experience who is interested in sharing their skills. Search for mentoring opportunities in your professional community. Your employer may offer a program, or a colleague may be willing to share her expertise over a cup of coffee.
Volunteer to Do More
Opportunity comes to those who ask for it. If you want to learn new skills, let your supervisor know that you’re interested. Volunteer for projects that require that you improve or learn a new skill. Learning new skills will keep you motivated and will help improve your confidence.