While your career can typically also help you gain the necessary skill set to grow and take the next stage of your journey, you want to also consider professional development as part of that equation. It helps to build an overall structure for how you want to advance your career or where you want to be eventually.
What does professional development look like?
First, it's important to understand that professional development is an ongoing process to undertake. It's taking actions that will eventually help you advance in your career, and there are several avenues you can take to accomplish that. Whether you attend a seminar or workshop, earn some additional certifications, head to networking events, or even teach yourself a new skill set related to your industry, this all falls under what professional development looks like.
Yet one has to keep in mind that we only have so much time to pursue professional development, so before even considering attending that conference, you want to go into this with some goals that you're looking to achieve. For example, are you looking to get promoted in your current position? Or are you looking to pivot into a new department and need to improve some skill sets?
With your goals in place, you can start to look at some options to reach those goals. For example, if you're looking to get into a new field, you should get a relevant certificate and training. You may be looking to find a new mentor who can help train you, and you can find that at a conference or during a workshop. Keep your first attempts with your professional development as focused as possible, with shorter-term goals, so you can see the power of the results more easily.
Always keep yourself networking.
In fact, regardless of your path to professional development, networking should always be a part of it. It is always a good idea to grow your professional associations and acquaintances because you'll always have that pool of people to fall back on when you're looking for your new position or simply when you need some timely advice or guidance.
Remember, it's not always about having the right skill sets for that position but knowing exactly who to reach out to, which helps to ensure that you're in the running to get that position.
Focus on your current needs
It's not just about what's next but also about helping keep yourself continuously relevant. You may be completely satisfied in your current position without the need to look for a new role. However, professional development should still apply to you, at least through continuous learning. This will help to keep you up to date with the latest trends and best practices in your industry and helps to grow your existing knowledge while keeping you competitive with your current employer.
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