When it comes to personal and professional development, there are two types of people: those who wait for it to happen and those who make it happen. Depending on the industry, the company you work for, the leadership, or your supervisor – these factors can determine how easy or difficult it will be to get support for your professional, and even personal, development.
Whether you're a full-time or part-time employee, managing a full-time career and a side hustle, or even if you're a full time entrepreneur, it's important to have a constant desire to improve, learn, and grow. Whether it's going back to school, attending a conference or workshop, purchasing a book, completing a training or certification, or finding a mentor – all of these ideas can benefit your professional and personal growth, and they can help open the door to new opportunities.
I've been in Corporate America for more than 10 years now as a marketing professional, while managing a side hustle as well for the last few years. I decided a long time ago that I wasn't going to simply wait for others to do it for me. Instead, I have taken ownership of my professional development. I have found ways to get companies that I've worked for to invest in me by simply showcasing my experience, skills, value, and potential. Besides, as hard as you work for the company, why not get them to go to work for you on behalf of your professional development?
With that said, I want to share with you some of the elements you can put together and develop into a deck via Microsoft PowerPoint, Canva.com templates, Adobe Illustrator, etc. Keep in mind, where you lack in design skills, enlist the help of a friend who can help you lay it out in a creative and visually engaging way.
Think "business case" – something you can share or present to help get the company to invest in you and help you ultimately secure the bag.
1. Clearly state your objectives and goals.
This includes your short-term and long-term goals, as well as professional and possibly personal goals (depending on how open-minded the company or your supervisor may be). This section should help answer questions like: what do you look to learn, what do you look to gain? Where do you want to be six months, a year, five years, or ten years from now? Are you asking to complete a course or attend a workshop or conference? Make it clear as to what it is that you're specifically asking for.
2. Showcase how dope you are.
Most companies don't mind investing in people who have, in some way or another, contributed to the company through their talents, time, and/or tenure…just to name a few. So, it's important to highlight the things that make you stand out as a great employee, especially if you can show how you've directly or indirectly had an impact on the sales or savings of the company.
This is your time to shine, but not in a resume format; rather, in a more creative and engaging way using visual graphics and "smart art" (a useful tool in MS PowerPoint). Showcase your education, experience, past performance reviews/ratings, awards, and/or any other applicable talents and skills that they may not be aware of or may have forgotten about. Be sure to include any relevant personal accomplishments as well. Yes, you may already know that you're worth it, but it's important that you can show others why you're worth the investment.
3. Provide an overview of the professional development.
Whether it's a program, certification, workshop, or conference - a one-page or one-slide summary of the program will help give the decision-makers more insight into the professional development. Include things like: total hours, registration dates, curriculum, agenda, location (virtual or in-person), and the cost. It's also important to include the new or additional skills and knowledge that will be obtained, professional awards or endorsements, and possibly a few reviews from past students.
There's no need to include every detail, but if you're able to show just how much is offered and at an affordable or reasonable price, it will help further show the cost-benefit value. Feel free to include a link to the site as well where they can research further if they're inclined to do so. Strive to leave no questions unanswered, but in a clear and concise way.
4. Share your plan for successfully completing the program.
Make it clear and show how you will be able to balance and manage your time effectively between your work duties as well as the professional development, if necessary.
During my recent marketing certification, I was managing my nine-to-five, life as a wife, my side hustle, church ministry, the more than 250 hours of content that I had to learn, as well as the comprehensive tests I had to pass. I know friends who've attended graduate school, all while managing their part-time business and their life as a wife, mother, and so much more. Nevertheless, you may have to sacrifice some time away from social media or the television, remembering that short sacrifices yield long-lasting results.
5. Summarize the overall benefits and value for you as well as the company.
In other words, you should be able to answer the question: how will helping you help the company? Will you obtain a unique set of skills that will make you stand out more? Is there a need that you can fulfill simply by completing the professional development? Will it make you a better all-around employee? What new ideas or enhancements will you learn that can possibly help improve your company's systems, processes, or overall productivity?
As a marketing professional, it's common for me to be on video, photo, and television shoots. Hence, it was fairly easy for me to get approval and funding for certain film/TV/writer/producer related workshops, conferences, and more. How? I was able to show how those workshops and trainings were directly related to my role and responsibilities, as well as how they would better equip me for current and future productions, and even my personal goals.
Maybe you have a future position or a promotion that you're working towards, and the skills acquired will prepare you for the new role. Sometimes, companies are merely impressed by the fact that you're able to look beyond today, and consider the plans for not only their future, but for your own future as well.
As they say, "do something today that your future self will thank you for later." Having a pool of talented and valuable employees not only makes them look good as a company, but it makes you look good too.
Featured image by Getty Images
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