People usually think of the career process as deciding on a career, getting the education and finding a job. But the career process doesn’t end once you’ve found a job, or at least it shouldn’t. Who wants to be that poor slob who just puts in his time and never learns anything new? In every profession, new information is always being developed. It is important to keep updated on your field of choice in order to keep yourself marketable within the workplace and out in the community. Some careers, such as counseling and education, require you to have a certain amount of educational credit in order to keep your current position. This practice is becoming a trend throughout many fields. Here are some suggestions of how you can continue your professional growth:
Take classes. Just because you have graduated from school doesn’t mean you never have to go to school again. Take classes that will further increase your knowledge at work. The class you take doesn’t have to be directly linked to your career. For example, a second language is highly valued in any career. Another universally beneficial class is a computer class. We are living in the computer age and most jobs involve some sort of computer knowledge. Expand your mind and see what kind of classes can be connected to your field of work.
Join a professional organization. Almost every kind of career has a professional organization that corresponds with it. You can find your professional organization in the phone book, Internet, college or even at your work site. The benefits of belonging to a professional organization are many. For example, it gives you a chance to build relationships with others in your profession, it can let you know of upcoming conferences, and it can keep you abreast of the latest developments in your field.
Attend workshops. You can find information about workshops from a professional organization, your work or any college. Attending a workshop is sometimes more desirable and feasible than taking a class because you can find out the latest happenings in your field in a shorter amount of time. Most workshops last no longer than a week; however, they can be intensive in the amount of hours spent in a day. The downside is they can sometimes be costly. The costs can possibly be reduced if you are a student or if your work is willing to pay for it.
Have guest speakers from the community come talk at your staff meetings. For example, lets say you work for an outpatient alcohol/drug agency. You can have someone from the inpatient program talk about the kinds of services they provide. Have an acupuncturist talk about how acupuncture can reduce stress. Have a worker from Child Protective Services talk about how to detect child abuse and reporting procedures.
Read books. Reading provides an excellent source of information. Go to the library or bookstore and read up on your career. The only downside is that, because of the speed of new technology, by the time the book is published new information has likely been developed.
Do a project for your place of employment. Brainstorm a project you can do that would benefit your place of employment and increase your knowledge at the same time. This project can be done on your own time, or if you have permission from your employer, it can be done during work. Come up with a project you would enjoy so doing it will be easier and more fulfilling.
Watch educational videos pertaining to your field of work. You can borrow educational videos many times from your place of business. You can also check them out from the library or at your local university. Your work or the university is probably the best source because they are the most likely to have the latest information on your field of work.
Use the Internet to educate yourself. These days you can find a wealth of information on almost any topic online. For example, I was once working with a client who had attention deficit disorder. I wanted to find more information about the symptoms of this disorder, so I decided to research it on the Internet. I found everything that I needed to know and more.
Find a mentor. A mentor is someone who is highly knowledgeable in your field. For example, a mentor could be someone in a higher position than you at work. Your mentor doesn’t have to be someone from your workplace, however. It can be anyone in the community who specializes in your field. Your mentor can support you in many different areas. He or she can help you problem solve situations that come up at work, help you develop a professional growth plan, give you tips on the latest information in your field and give you ideas on how you can move up the career ladder.
Exchanging information with other peers. Some of the best ways we learn and acquire new information is from the people around us. Make an effort to set up time either during your staff meetings or separate from your staff meetings to exchange ideas. This is a chance for employees to bring up any questions and or concerns they may have. As a group you would work together in coming up with ideas and solutions.
Professional growth is something that should continue for the rest of your life, regardless of what career you have chosen. This fact shouldn’t disappoint you, but rather excite you with the idea that you will always be moving forward and improving professionally.