As an educator, you also possess an affinity for learning, and recognize that the pursuit of increased knowledge and skill keeps you on a continuous path of growth and development of great personal—and professional—value. On the path towards professional development in particular, it helps to explore a number of different means that can help you make the progress you’re hoping to achieve.
In his book 101 Ways to Find Work… and Keep Finding Work for the Rest of Your Career!, Dr. Charles Michael Austin shares five ways to explore professional development opportunities. We’ve summarized them below. You might also consider sharing these tips with students who are heading out into the career world.
Five tips for continuous professional development:
- Earn the degree or certificate required by your profession of choice. This point may seem basic—and indeed, you may have already achieved this accomplishment—but nevertheless, it shouldn’t be overlooked. If a particular license, degree, or certification is a requirement or an evidence of progress in your chosen profession, take the time to earn it. Added education can also offer increased opportunity; for example, if you currently have a master’s degree, but you’d like to move into a more advanced position (or a different role altogether), you may want to pursue a doctorate degree, or perhaps a master’s in a different area of concentration.
- Expand your “vocabulary.” Be well versed in your current or desired profession’s current terms and trends so that you can converse fluently with colleagues and others in the field.
- Build your skills and proficiency. Don’t let your skill set stay stuck in the bracket of what was fresh five or ten years ago. Are there new technologies and apps that can help you do your job more effectively and efficiently? Do you follow insightful and thoughtful writers, speakers, and leaders through their blogs and social media channels? Do you get your own voice there via social media? Consider what you can do to fine-tune your ability to use these tools and stay on top of the latest developments.
- Continuously refine and expand your knowledge base. Keep up with the news, developments, guidelines, standards, and regulations related to your current or desired profession. Be a voracious reader, and take in both print and online resources that will keep you informed about a wide range of topics—those specifically related to your career, as well as those related to current events… or even other disciplines. Something intriguing—yet seemingly unrelated to your initial scope of interest—may end up bringing you an unexpected connection or discovery.
- Develop your network. Foster your connections with colleagues, old and new. Keep in contact with your school’s alumni association. Volunteer your time and energy towards the causes about which you’re passionate. The more you make the effort to build and maintain quality relationships, the better positioned you’ll be to find a new role or opportunity in a setting you’ll enjoy. (Austin, 120-126)
Reference: Austin, C.M. 2015. 101 Ways to Find Work… and Keep Finding Work for the Rest of Your Career! Boston, MA: Cengage Learning PTR.
How do you explore professional development opportunities? What would you recommend to someone who’s hoping to progress further along his or her career path? Share your insights in the comments.