Career Issues

Five Strategies For Professional Development
by David Beran

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There's never been a better time for you to stretch yourself in your current position. If you are motivated and eager to acquire new skills, you will find a variety of opportunities to improve your status. Here are five strategies for professional development that will enhance your future prospects.

1. Take On More Responsibilities: You've mastered your job responsibilities, but you are itching to take on new challenges. It's time to stretch yourself and consider asking for new duties. When you talk to your supervisor, be clear about your intentions and your desire for career growth. When you ask to take on more responsibilities, it's essential that you convey exactly what you intend to do.

You've got skills – Straying from your comfort zone takes courage and commitment. Instead of adhering to tried- and-true recipes for success, there are times when you have to try new approaches and swerve off the path you are accustomed to. In today's fast-moving workplace, currents constantly shift and you have to be able to adapt to unforeseen circumstances. "Staying the course" has evolved into having the ability to take new readings and set another heading.

2. Volunteer Your Time: Volunteering is a great way to round out your experiences and to distinguish yourself as a professional willing to do whatever it takes to improve yourself. It can bring additional opportunities for professional development and expose you to new learning experiences. Volunteering gives you a chance to give something back to your community and often becomes a golden opportunity to network. Tutoring, reading, and working with animals are some examples of available positions.

3. Join Professional Organizations: Participating in professional organizations is an opportunity for individual growth. Your experiences will make you a more versatile and well-rounded person and organizations present ideal networking opportunities. Brainstorming with others in similar professional situations, and participating with committees or special interest groups are a way to grow and gain additional experience.

4. Pursue Additional Training and Education: Continuing education is an increasingly important method of professional growth. One popular option is enrolling in a distance-learning program. "We are constantly updating and revising courses so employees can sign up for extension courses and/or degree programs to fill in gaps and to get 're-tooled'," says Dr. Lolly Horn, California National University's CEO/VP for Academic Affairs. California National University caters to students who want quality, relevant degree programs, individualized instruction, and flexibility. AppleOne associates are offered special discounts on CNU courses. "There's a constant need to educate yourself if you want to stay on top of the latest business developments," says career consultant Jamie Moore. Every AppleOne branch has resources to help candidates improve on various office proficiencies and computer programs.

5. Mentoring: Mentors come in all shapes and sizes. Professional mentors don't always have to be executive coaches, trainers, or consultants. Many mentors are people who feel they owe their success to an individual who helped them in their formative years. Others wish that they would have had someone there to help them. Mentoring is a great way to blend your professional interests with a personal commitment. When trying to find a mentor, look for people you respect. Get to know them and let them get to know you. If possible, select a mentor whose outlook and career goals are similar to your own. If you're unsure of a specific field, select someone solid who has enough experience to offer sound advice. As you gain more experience, you may want to find your own protégé to take under your wing. Many professionals are surprised to discover that they grow and learn more through the act of teaching than they ever did through studying . Impacting the life of a young person is mutually beneficial and will develop guidance skills you may not be getting a chance to use.

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