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Always Say Yes to Professional Development

A person reading a tablet.

In the social-impact world, it can seem like you don’t have time for a trip 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, 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 world. Sometimes it happens because you’re working long hours. Sometimes it happens because you’re fighting against discrimination that personally affects you. Sometimes it happens because you regularly witness trauma.

Regardless of the root causes of your burnout, one sure fire way to avoid (or recover from) it is to build and nurture strong relationships.

Conferences and other professional development events are a great opportunity to connect with colleagues and to 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 if 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! Here are some tips for starting that conversation.

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.

A quick Google 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 in 2018? Is there a particular seminar you hope to go to? Let us know which PD opportunities you think will be the best of 2018! Not sure? Browse this list to get you started.

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by Alice Pettway

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