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Professional Development | Always Say Yes to Learning Opportunities

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A Black woman wearing a yellow sweater and pants sits on the floor with her colleagues, planning professional development with post-it notes and a white sheet of paper.

In the social-impact world, it can seem like you don’t have time for a trip to the restroom, let alone the flexibility to schedule a webinar or attend a conference. But if you let the daily grind get in the way of professional development, you can easily find yourself stagnating in your career.

So, the next time you see an opportunity to learn a new skill or network with people doing similar work, jump on it!

Keep your passion stoked

Burnout is a challenge in the social-impact sector; sometimes it happens because you’re working long hours, fighting against discrimination that personally affects you, and/or because you regularly witness trauma relating to your organization’s mission.

Regardless of the root causes of your burnout, one way to manage how it affects you is to build and nurture strong relationships. Conferences and other professional development events are a great opportunity to connect with colleagues and meet social-impact professionals around the country, or even world, who are doing work similar to your own. When you need a morale boost, you’ll have a whole community of people to turn to.

Spend time now to save time in the long run

Does it feel like you never reach the bottom of your work pile, no matter how many hours you put in? Professional development can help you work smarter instead of harder.

While many social-impact professional development (PD) events are issue-focused, there are also plenty of general conferences and classes for learning about project management, maximizing productivity, communication, and other skills that can help you make the most of your time. Professional development—when done as a group—can also build team coherence and cross-organizational relationships, which in turn boosts productivity.

Pro tip: Ask your organization to cover the cost of your professional development—after all, they’ll make their money back when your productivity increases! If your organization won’t cover PD, however, you can still pursue options on your own.

Move toward your career goals

Are you interested in moving into a position with more responsibility or applying for a job at another organization? Professional development can beef up your resume, and it shows that you’re proactive about learning.

If there’s an organization you’re interested in, do some research to find out exactly what they’re looking for in new hires. Then, tailor your professional development so you have all the skills they’re interested in.

  • Need to hone your writing skills? Find a writer's workshop.
  • Looking to move into management? One of these PD programs might do the trick.

A quick search of the skill you need and “professional development” usually turns up a whole slew of options to choose from.

What will you learn this year?

Already know which conference you’ll be attending this year? Is there a particular seminar you hope to go to? Let us know which PD opportunities you think will be the best of the best on LinkedIn.


by Alice Pettway

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