5 Ways to Power Your Professional Development

Life-long learning is no longer an aspiration of select few but a widespread necessity of our fast-paced, technology driven, ever-changing economies, no matter what industry you work in.  Employees that cultivate a growth mindset are more likely to succeed professionally and attain those coveted leadership roles.  The good news is that professional development is easy to achieve with the digitization of information.  Anyone can now go on the internet and learn something new in minutes.           

According to a 2019 study conducted by IBM, as many as 120 million workers in the world’s 12 largest economies may need upskilling in the next three years as a result of AI. While some skills will become obsolete, new ones will emerge to work effectively with AI.  To stay competitive and relevant to your organization, take charge of your professional growth and continuously be on the lookout for opportunities to learn, acquire new skills, explore novel technologies, and stay on top of industry trends. 

1. Join Online Courses & Training Sessions

Earning a certificate for a specific job function, to complement your college or university degree, is a great way to set yourself apart from the competition, stay up-to-date on skills and build out your resume.  There are many online platforms that offer a wide range of training sessions and courses, which can be done flexibly, on your own schedule.  LinkedIn Learning, Google Academy and Lynda are some of the more popular platforms for specific skill training.  Many colleges and universities also offer continuing education courses focusing on select topics.  And don’t forget about professional development certifications through industry associations.           

2. Expand Your Scope of Work

Many employees become disengaged at work because their tasks turn stagnant and their scope of work does not allow them to grow.  Don’t wait around for your manager to assign something new and challenging.  Instead, propose it yourself.  Look to your peers in the industry to gain inspiration for new projects.  Learn something new about the technology you’ve been using and share your knowledge with your team. 

3. Find a Mentor

Learning from someone else’s experiences is very valuable.  A mentor, someone you admire and aspire to become professionally, can share those industry secrets that you’ll never get from a book or a course.  They can provide you with objective guidance, motivate you, and offer tips to be more efficient and effective at your job.  Mentors can also be good constructive critics, often helping identify your shortcomings or areas for improvement, something that is not easy to do on your own.

4. Read & Write Regularly

There is no shortage of valuable content.  Regularly read industry blogs, articles and books to stay up to date on trends and data, discover new technologies, and much like with a mentor, learn from other people’s experiences in your field.  Not everyone likes to write but if you do, set up a blog of your own and start writing!  Blogging requires specific research and will expose you to new types of information.

5. Attend Industry Conferences

Conferences are a great way to network but also to expand your area of expertise.  You get to listen to speakers in different sub-fields of the industry and attend topic focused workshops or roundtables.   You often learn new techniques, get insights into unpublished data, and meet some of the biggest names in your field. 

Learning something new could be scary but it is also thrilling and satisfying.  Our roles, our industries are constantly changing and so must we.