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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Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find , there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecole exclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause , marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression , anxiety , like all of it, mental health challenges , all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry ’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy . If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures , and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood , her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff , which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You , which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
Victoria Monét has had an incredible year. Thanks to the success of the widely popular “ On My Mama ” that went viral, the singer/ songwriter’s Jaguar II album debuted in the top 10 of Billboard’s Top R&B Albums chart. She also went on to headline her own sold-out tour . So, when the MTV VMAs happened in September, everyone was surprised to learn that Victoria’s team was told that it was “too early” for the “Smoke” artist to perform at the award show. However, a couple of months later, the mom of one received seven Grammy nominations, including “Best R&B Album” and “Record Of The Year.”
Victoria is currently in London and stopped by The Dotty Show on Apple Music and shared how she feels “validated” after being dismissed by the VMAs.
“It really does feel nice and validating because, in my head, the reason why I wanted to be a performer at the VMAs or award ceremonies like that is because I felt like I am at the place where I should. I would work really hard to put on the best show that I could, and I was excited to do so,” she said.
“And I guess the best way to describe it for me is like when you're like on a sports team, and the coach is like, ‘No, you gotta sit this one out.’ When they finally put you in, and then you score all these points, and it feels like that feeling. You're like, yes, I knew it wasn't tripping, but I knew I worked hard for this, and so it's been super validating to just have these accolades come after a moment like that, and I know the fans feel vindicated for me.
While her fans called the VMAs out on their decision, the “Moment” singer kept it cute and is still open to performing at the iconic award show. “I feel no ill towards them because it's just maybe that's just truly how they felt at the time, but I hope their mind has changed,” she admitted.
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Feature image by Amy Sussman/WireImage for Parkwood