Perhaps you’ve recently started a new job or maybe you’ve been in the same position for a period of time now; regardless, I’d encourage you to consider the following question, “How do you maximize this opportunity to develop as a professional, deepen your knowledge, hone and expand your transferable and job-specific skills, build your network, and leverage this experience to advance your career?”
Investing time in your professional growth and development can improve your job performance, satisfaction, and confidence in your current and future contributions. Consider the following items as you get started.
- Reflect on your longer-term career goals. Setting specific goals to improve your career can help you better identify your path forward. If there is a particular position that you aspire to, search for job descriptions that will give you an idea of the desired skills and qualifications. Then, you can start to find the gaps that might exist and you can brainstorm ways that you can fill them and make yourself more competitive.
- Increase your knowledge of the field. Organizations sometimes offer tuition assistance or reimbursement for employees who pursue a related educational program. In addition to certificates and degree programs offered by universities, you could also explore free online courses through platforms such as Coursera and EdX. Your employer may also offer training programs. Additionally, professional associations are a great way to stay current on trends and practices in the field and find conferences, webinars, and online forums.
- Seek feedback from a manager and colleagues about your strengths and areas for improvement. Understanding your strengths can help you build confidence in the value that you bring to your current role and to future opportunities. Once you know where you can improve, then you can develop actionable steps to grow in those areas. Your manager may be able to help you with this and provide ongoing feedback about your progress.
- Network. In addition to involvement with professional associations, you may also consider participation in committees, employee resource groups, or other affinity groups in your organization. As you’re considering your next career move, it might be beneficial to set up informational interviews with people in roles that you aspire to. In these informal conversations, you can get a sense for their career path and you can seek information, advice, feedback, and recommendations for your next steps.
- Take on new opportunities outside of your role. If you learn about a project that you’d like to contribute to, consider meeting with your manager to express interest and learn more. Even if that particular project isn’t an option at that time, it opens up a conversation with your manager about your interests and additional skills that you’re hoping to develop. You could also propose an idea for a new project or initiative. Contributing to cross-functional projects is also a great way to network and explore interests.
Think strategically about how to maximize your experience in your current job and take advantage of the available opportunities and resources to advance towards your future goals.