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Regardless of where you are in your career path, there are different ways to build skills and grow as a professional. These include career-related workshops, professional development courses, job fairs, and even volunteering.
Workshops are a great way to block off a small amount of time and focus on skill-building in one key area. The events might be in-person or online, and can be hosted by any number of organizations including your employer; they might be serious or fun but are usually intended to help you do a self-assessment, improve skills, and discover new ways to solve problems related to your work.
As part of a conference, a workshop or seminar can also renew your motivation, help you network with peers, and connect you to new opportunities within your industry.
Check with you local workforce board, employment agency, or professional organization for career events near you.
Professional development requires a larger commitment of time as training and courses are usually part of a series meant to explore all areas of a topic. Whether held in-person or online, the offering for these courses is varied as is the cost. Ask your employer about professional development within the organization and then look externally for additional resources you may need to access.
You can look for online resources that offer free learning opportunities to start, including Coursera and Harvard. You can also check if any existing memberships provide you with additional options; for example, your library card might provide you with free access to sites like Lynda.com.
First, determine what you want to focus on and create a plan from there. For example, if you want to learn more about diversity and inclusion, look for a variety of ways you can tackle this important topic. At Build a Dream, our professional development workshops teach participants ways to identify and remove unconscious bias from processes and develop new skills to make improvements in different environments.
Check with your professional organization, local college, or private service providers for courses to to give your career a boost!
Job fairs have many benefits, even if you already have a job. You can attend a job fair to see what in-demand jobs and skills companies are seeking and practice your networking skills as you build relationships with employers. Job fairs often have workshops or seminars connected to them so look for added benefits like these to decide which events to attend.
If you are interested in a new position, review the employer list ahead of time to shortlist preferred contacts, practice your pitch thoroughly, dress professionally, and have your resume handy. If the event is virtual, have your information ready to go (there may be an opportunity to fill out an online profile), find a quiet, uncluttered space to connect from, and dress as you would for an in-person meeting.
Check with you local workforce board or employment agency for career events near you and keep an eye on companies who are willing to invest in your professional development. TIP: If you are a recent graduate, you may still be eligible to attend job fairs held by the post-secondary school that you attended.
It might not be the first thing that comes to mind but volunteering can be a great way to work on career development. Aligning with an organization that fits with you career plans (i.e. working in STEM and being a judge at FIRST Robotics) is a great addition to your resume, provides opportunities for continuous learning, and expands your network. If you have a specific skill that you want to work, ask about volunteer positions that will have your working with others you can shadow and learn from.
If you want to advance in your career, it is time to expand your learning:
Today’s global economy means that many jobs will continue to evolve and the workforce will require employees who are willing to build new skills. Take time to seek out opportunities based on what you already know about yourself and what competitive edge you want to maintain to advance within your career and industry.