Successful growth in STEM means striving to develop professionally. You have to always be willing to gain new job-related experience and expose yourself to the job scenarios that will teach you how to outperform the competition.
For this blog post, let’s start with the definition of professional development:
Professional development is a wide variety of specialized training, formal education, and advanced professional learning intended to help administrators, teachers, and other educators improve their professional knowledge, competence, skill, and effectiveness.INEE – EIE Glossary
Work environments that encourage professional growth will actively demonstrate a culture of caring about an individual’s progress and their team’s future. This type of work environment is what you should seek. Care is displayed by organizations when they support an employee by investing in their innovation and growth.
Don’t get sidetracked by a good salary with little to no support from your leadership. Search for a professional environment that demonstrates it wants to see you develop, too.
Professional Growth Opportunities and Alternatives
Here are a few professional growth alternatives to be on the lookout for:
- Support and Model Behavior. Supervisors and workplace leaders serve as role models to employees in a workplace. …
- Cross-Training Work Assignments. …
- Access to Resources. …
- Coaching and Development.
Women in STEM have a role to play and should search for professional growth opportunities that fit their needs. The following are types of activities that contribute to career growth and development:
- Continuing Education. Credits or rewards are sometimes linked, i.e. continuing education units (CEUs). Note: CEUs are not offered as part of conference courses.
- Participation in professional organizations. Professional organizations may have chapters in your workplace- seek them out! They may also be called affinity groups (a group of people linked by a common interest or purpose). The best workplace matches will promote your joining forces with a professional organization that has a presence beyond your normal profession. For example, when I was employed at Booz Allen Hamilton, the Society of Women Engineers and the International Council of Systems Engineers had onsite chapters. Some of the leaders worked for other companies and also led their local chapter meetings. This led to even more opportunities for networking and growth.
- Research. Study, investigate, and look up opportunities that you can embrace in your lifestyle.
- Improve job performance. Any skills you can acquire and bring back to enhance your team or personal performance are always welcome. These give you a plus-up in the workplace.
- Increased duties and responsibilities. This is usually an outcome or result of professional development.
- Approaches to professional development: This can include Skills-Based Training and job assignments that enhance knowledge of your current work or the job you aspire to have.
Sometimes, shadowing for a day in the office where you desire to work gives you a plus-up. Through shadowing, you can learn what the job and office are like before you make a move.
Another option I prefer is to conduct an informational interview with persons in the dream job you desire. These kinds of interviews can lead to invaluable information. In these interviews, it’s best you sit back and gather all the info you need to succeed. Keep your questions simple and targeted to what you need to know (SWIFT-U). This technique allows you to discover the good, bad, and unknown parts of a position without actually taking a job (and finding out later it’s not the best fit for you). You can communicate in-person or online, but be prepared with your questions and fire away.
An informational interview can also be applied to strategically position you in your current job.
I encourage customers to look on LinkedIn and find experts or leaders they’d ideally like to speak with. Send a request- express that you admire the person’s career path or contributions to the field, and that you would like an informational interview. Most folks are quite approachable, and this method is especially valuable if no one is in close proximity to address your inquiries. Since most people enjoy discussing what they do, they will usually agree to share valuable information with someone who is asking directly. Again, the use of the right tools can position you in front of the right people, providing access to places where you normally wouldn’t be.
LinkedIn is a well-subscribed, go-to tool to learn about people and organizations that provide you with an edge prior to interviews, important meetings, and presentations. Using LinkedIn, you can connect directly with persons in key positions to share and extract information. I highly recommend you use this tool to search for your future job contender or mentor for your Personal Board. If you are in the job market, select to “Follow” your dream companies or join groups of interest online. The robots used by recruiting will surely find you if you keep your keyword section updated. When you publish your resume in your profile, always set privacy settings. Ensure your contact info is current so you can be reached directly.
- Take time to assess each of the above advice tips and apply to your career.
- Determine which professional development aids you’d like to embrace and use to propel you towards growth, knowledge, and professional skills.
- The proper selection gives you an edge in your career path.
If you need help getting on track, let an expert power-up your resume. Contact your tech career advancement coach. Let’s get a job you can win with the skills you have to showcase and soar to the next level!
Dr. Denise N. Haskins