Professional Development Trainings for Every Stage of Your Career

Deborah Swerdlow

A man writing on a chalkboard.

According to a 2016 Gallup report, 87% of millennials rate "professional or career growth and development opportunities" as an important criterion when evaluating a job. That percentage was high enough for Gallup to declare millennials’ desire for professional development as “the greatest differentiator between them and all other generations in the workplace.”

But despite the strong desire for professional development among millennials, finding professional development opportunities is easier said than done.

That’s why we’ve rounded up a list of professional development trainings for social impact professionals, organized by career stage. If one of these trainings speaks to you, check out our tips at the end for asking your organization to sponsor your participation.

Pro Tip: If you’re looking for free professional development opportunities, Nonprofit Hub has a guide to the best free nonprofit webinars, and you can search for free events.

When you’re just starting out

Owning the Work, by The Management Center

In Management Center parlance, “owning” the work means being the one who is ultimately accountable for the success or failure of a project. An owner ensures that all the work gets done, either by doing it himself or delegating to others. Ownership is the difference between being told, “Do X, Y, and Z for the volunteer orientation” vs. “You’re responsible for ensuring that volunteer onboarding runs smoothly.”

What you’ll learn: This one-day training will teach you the tools and practices to be a successful owner, including how to:

  • Get aligned with your manager on what success looks like;
  • Structure check-ins with your manager so that each of you gets what you need;
  • Write individual goals that are outcome-oriented as opposed to task-oriented;
  • Ask for and receive constructive feedback; and
  • Manage your time and stay organized.

Location: These in-person trainings take place in Chicago, New York City, San Francisco, and Washington, DC.

Cost: Ranges from $200 to $325, depending on your organization’s annual budget or if you’re attending on your own. If your organization is a client of The Management Center or The Management Action Center (which works with non-501(c)3 social impact organizations), you can receive a 10% discount.

Public Speaking: Overcoming Your Fear, by CompassPoint

Strong public speaking skills can help you succeed in your current job and future positions. But often the fear of public speaking holds people back from communicating clearly and confidently. That’s where this training from CompassPoint, a nonprofit leadership and strategy consulting company, comes in.

What you’ll learn: This one-day training will teach you what makes an effective speaker and presentation and how to manage your nerves, body language, and voice when delivering presentation. You’ll also get to apply the skills and techniques you learn in real time by practicing a three-minute presentation on a topic of your choice.

Location: The training is offered in Oakland, CA, where CompassPoint is based.

Cost: Ranges from $165 to $245 depending on the size of your organization’s budget or if you’re attending as an individual or consultant. Students qualify for the lowest rate.

When you want to make a change

Pivot Journeys

Pivot Journeys' Founder Emily Lamia is a familiar name on Idealist Careers. As the company name suggests, Pivot Journeys offers getaways to help professionals navigate career transitions. But they also have online and day-long options in Brooklyn, NY.

What you’ll learn: The week-long international trips feature diagnostic tools, workshops, and coaching to help you chart your next steps alongside vacation activities such as sightseeing, hiking, surfing, and other adventures unique to your destination. A new offering called the Fall Pivot offers the same content minus the exotic locale and time away from work and family (it takes place in Brooklyn, NY, over the course of six weeks).

Location: In the past, Pivot Journeys has gone to Costa Rica, Belize, and Iceland. Workshops of one day or less are typically in Brooklyn, NY.

Cost: At $10, the online mini-workshop is Pivot Journeys’ most affordable option. A half-day career mapping workshop costs $49, and the Fall Pivot costs $598. The week-long international trips can range from $2,799 to $3,250.

Bossed Up Bootcamp

Bossed Up Bootcamp is an intensive day-and-a-half training for women who want to learn how to build a sustainable career #likeaboss—a boss who knows what she wants and has the confidence and skills to get it.

What you’ll learn: Bootcamp sessions cover work, love, and wellness so attendees can become the boss of their whole lives, not just their career paths. Bootcamp participants also receive a professional headshot and access to a private online network of Bootcamp alumnae around the country.

Location: Bootcamp is held in multiple cities, including Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, New York City, and Washington, DC.

Cost: Bossed Up Bootcamp costs $499, excluding travel, lodging, and meals. Scholarships are available for full-time students, active military and veterans, and those who need financial assistance.

When you want to boost your management skills

Management Crash Course, by The Management Center

The Management Center’s signature management crash course comes in two varieties:

Two-day crash course

  • What you’ll learn: The basics of effective management, including delegation, goal-setting, hiring, giving feedback, resolving performance issues, managing up, and organization.
  • Location: Held in multiple cities, including Boston, MA; Chicago, IL; Denver, CO; Los Angeles, CA; New York City, NY; Portland, OR; San Francisco, CA; Seattle, WA; and Washington, DC.
  • Cost: Ranges from $395 (for individuals) to $625 depending on your organization’s budget.

A three-day version of the course for people of color and indigenous people

  • What you’ll learn: This course covers the same topics as the two-day crash course, plus extra time for discussion about how managers of color can navigate race, identity, and power dynamics within their organizations. Managers must apply to attend.
  • Location: This training is only offered in Washington, DC.
  • Cost: Ranges from $445 (for individuals) to $695 depending on your organization’s budget.

Managing for Success, by ProInspire

If you’re looking for an immersive management training, ProInpsire’s Managing for Success program might be for you.

What you’ll learn: The three-month program includes three full-day workshops, self-assessments, peer-learning and mentorship opportunities, and the development of a personal action plan to track progress toward your professional development goals. The workshops cover three aspects of management: managing yourself, managing other individuals, and managing within your organization.

Location: ProInspire runs a fall and spring Managing for Success cohort in Washington, D.C., and a fall cohort in San Francisco.

Cost: For the fall 2017 cohorts, the costs are $950 if you apply by the early-bird deadline of July 17 and $1,100 if you apply by the regular deadline of August 14.

Asking your organization to sponsor your professional development

First you need to find out if your organization has an established procedure for requesting sponsorship for professional development opportunities. If not, send a note or have a conversation with your supervisor that includes the following:

  • Details on the costs involved, including airfare or other travel costs.
  • The registration deadline (if applicable).
  • An explanation of how the training will make you a more valuable employee, such as by providing you with skills that are applicable to your job or enhancing your leadership capabilities. For example:
  • Want to go to the public speaking training? Talk about how improving your speaking skills can make you a better ambassador for the organization when recruiting volunteers and funding.
  • About to take on a new role at work? Talk about how attending a training like Bossed Up Bootcamp can help you make a successful transition and craft a healthy work-life balance.
  • Becoming a first-time manager? Talk about how developing your management skills can make you and your team more productive.

As we suggested when making the case for working remotely, you may want to draft a formal understanding or agreement of how you’ll apply the new skills at work. For example, will you share your learnings at the next staff meeting? What benchmarks can you set for six months after the training to evaluate if it’s been successful?

If your organization agrees to sponsor you, prepare a brief report after your training—either a few sentences in an email or something you can verbally share in your next check-in—to recap what you learned.

Pro Tip: The more specific you can be about the benefits of the training, the better. For example, did you learn a new technique that you’re using to improve an existing process at work? Did the evaluations of your presentations at the annual conference become more positive after you attended the public speaking training?

The reason to do this is because one of the best ways to get your employer to say yes to future professional development opportunities is to show them how you’ve utilized the ones they’ve given to you in the past. In other words, show them how investing in your professional development is a win-win!

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Deborah Swerdlow

As a nonprofit advocacy professional living in Washington, D.C., Deborah works with groups across the country to educate their communities and lawmakers about public policies that can help low-income residents make ends meet. She is passionate about helping people connect their interests to a cause they believe in and empowering them to take action.

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