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Creating a Professional Development Plan

Professional development can be a way to learn new skills as well as create a path to achieve long term goals. There are many ways to take advantage and create opportunities to develop professionally while in your current position.

Think about what skills you would like to improve or what parts of your current job you especially enjoy. Identify activities that are exciting or interesting that you could do within your current role, that you are currently not doing or would like to do more. Also, consider your long term professional goals, and talk about your goals and vision for your career with your supervisor to help you better understand what options there are to engage in professional development. Some organizations have formal annual reviews, if you have one bring your goals with you to help create a plan to reach them. If you do not have annual review, schedule a meeting to discuss professional development options with your supervisor.

Some example actions you could do are:

  • Participate in a standing meeting or a committee that you do not currently
  • Volunteer for a different role within a project or on your team
  • Ask what other responsibilities you could take on to support your organization
  • Go to a conference related to your industry or technical skills you want to develop

Things to remember:

  • Align what you want to do with the organization’s mission
    • How does the professional development you want to do related to your current role or how does it help the organization achieve its goals?
  • Get permission and feedback from your supervisor while creating a professional development plan
  • Ask your supervisor questions
    • What are activities they would recommend?
    • Make the conversation collaborative when discussing professional development
  • Seek out guidance from a mentor
    • Again, asking what activities they would recommend?
  • What skills do you need to help you qualify or be more qualified for a job you want in the future? And/or what skills would help you do your job better now?

Below is a link to a template you can use to help organize your thoughts about professional development. This could also be a helpful tool to guide a conversation with your supervisor regarding opportunities for professional development.

Link for professional development plan template

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Tags: Development, Professional


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Comment by Erika J. Kluge on June 7, 2018 at 12:44am

Great advice Courtney- I have found from experience over the years that having a plan for what you want to engage more in or learn more about can be very beneficial. 

Comment by Adrienne Kleinman on May 31, 2018 at 3:44pm

This is a really great topic, Courtney! It's also not something that I think is regularly taught in schools -- or at least when I was attending. Seeking guidance within your own workplace can be essential to your growth as an employee, and to help you hone in on the direction you'd like to be taking. Also, asking to take on new roles and opportunities is a great way to experience your job and discover a direction that you may like more. Asking for what you need can be life changing and allow you to become more aligned with your goals. 

Comment by Kara Ayers on May 31, 2018 at 10:36am

Great tips. I really like the suggestion to align what you're considering doing with your long-term goals. It can be so tempting to just sign up for more committees, find a conference, etc. But if they aren't connected to your longer term goals, these additions to your life might help you spend some time but they won't help get you where you want to go. I think the only caveat to that might be the opportunity to network and make new connections. If you know that you can really make the most of that, there might be more openness to joining or attending groups/events that are less directly tied to your goals.

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