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ATD EPA Blog

ATD Eastern PA's leading professionals across the corporate, academic and management consulting industries sharing their insight and expertise from everyday practical work experiences.  2020 will bring a number of new posts, information coming soon!


February 2020

Take Charge of Your Own Professional Development by Andy Cook



We live in a world where things are changing. It’s hard to believe or remember a world without smartphones. Did you realize that It’s been 13 years since Steve Jobs introduced the Apple iPhone to the world? Think about this: the skills we had in 2007 wouldn’t necessarily keep us relevant and useful today, let alone 13 years from now.


Whether you work for an organization or work for yourself, it’s important to keep your own professional development high on your to-do list. We’ve all likely had experiences working in companies where there 1) was no professional development, 2) was professional development, but only for the selected few, or 3) there was professional development, but there were hoops

to go through, eligibility requirements, or other constraints.


In my own experience, I’ve had the gamut: none available, available but with limitations (usually a yearly $ cap, or only a certain number in the department could attend something in a given year), and one where courses were covered including books! The latter was many years ago when I worked for a non-profit; the pay was low, but the benefits were really good. In the last couple of years, I’ve been working in what’s known as the “gig” economy – I have work through a mix of different and varied streams, taking on “gigs” as they come available or are a match for my skills. Some have been long term (I’ve been an adjunct college professor since 2012), and some are shorter (e.g. team development work, executive retreats, coaching clients).


Where am I headed with this? One of the ways I’ve kept myself moving forward is through being the captain of my own ship: taking responsibility for my own development, even when it was not supported (financially or otherwise) through companies I’ve worked for. Whether it was advancing my education, getting certified in an assessment, or getting my executive coaching credential, it’s so important to be lifelong learners. Your development doesn’t have to be time-consuming or a big financial investment, either. Have you visited the national ATD site? Are you aware of the vast resources available at your local public library?


Ask yourself:

* What was the last ATD program I attended?

* What opportunities exist through ATD or other professional organizations related to my

industry?

* What was the last book or article I read connected to my professional field?

* When did I last talk with a colleague about his or her recent achievement or

certification, or share something I’ve recently done, read, or saw?

* Have I set goals for myself connected to my development?


As we begin a new year (and a new decade), I challenge you to commit to your own growth and professional development! If you work for an organization, investigate any tuition reimbursement programs and/or talk with your manager about what opportunities may lie ahead. If you work for yourself, commit to an achievable “SMART” (specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, time-based) goal to reach in the next 3, 6, or 12 months. It all begins with setting your mind to it, and remember, investing in yourself is the best

guaranteed return of them all. One last tip: share your goal with a friend or buddy – this way you can help hold each other accountable! 


Andy Cook EdD is a professional certified executive coach and leadership development consultant.  He's an adjunct professor of organizational development and leadership at St. Joseph's University, and Director at Large for ATD Eastern Pennsylvania.  Connect with him @ www.linkedin.com/in/linkedinandy/


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