Professional Development Forum

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  • 1.  How do you find Professional Development Training?

    Posted 09-10-2021 17:03
    Every year, I try to participate in some version of professional development training. Two years ago I completed a Facilitation Certificate through the Association for Talent Development (ATD). Last year I earned my Change Management Certification through PROSCI. Both of these companies came recommended to me by other colleagues and I really enjoyed the programs.

    I'm not great at finding these opportunities via internet searches because I'm typically skeptical of the quality/pricing. So, let's help each other out:

    I'm curious what professional development or training programs you've completed recently and if you'd recommend it or not?

    Thanks for the tips!

    Alison Randall

  • 2.  RE: How do you find Professional Development Training?

    Posted 09-15-2021 09:20

    ohmygosh, @Alison Randall. Your timing cannot be more perfect on this post. (Granted, you posted 4 days ago and I am just reading it now, but maybe it's the Universe bringing it to me at the exact right time.)

    To preface slightly, every year I do something called 10Q​ - no, not the chicken. Every year  you answer the same 10 questions, one per day, they save them online and "release" them to you the next year. They explain it better than I do: 

    Answer one question per day in your own secret online 10Q space. Make your answers serious. Silly. Salacious. However you like. It's your 10Q. When you're finished, hit the magic button and your answers get sent to the secure online 10Q vault for safekeeping. One year later, the vault will open and your answers will land back in your email inbox for private reflection. Want to keep them secret? Perfect. Want to share them, either anonymously or with attribution, with the wider 10Q community? You can do that too. Next year the whole process begins again. And the year after that, and the year after that.

    I've been doing this since 2017, and my answers over time are really interesting. 
    Yesterday's question was: 

    Is there something (a person, a cause, an idea) that you want to investigate more fully in the coming year?

    Every year I write about how I want to be better about professional development. The first couple of years I wrote about wanting to do a deeper dive into LGBTQ studies. Last year I wrote about how I wanted to learn to tell an impactful story more succinctly. I'll embrace #vulnerability and share what I wrote this year:  

    I have failed pretty hard in the last several years in this category. I do still want to learn more about story telling, and I also want/need to do more learning about the queer communities. Generally though, I want to be better about making time to learn. I'm pretty good about pulling lessons from things as they happen in the moment, but I'm not always great about really soaking that knowledge in and coming back to it later. I've thought a lot in the last few weeks about how I've fallen off the journaling train again, and that I'd like to get back into that habit. But even if I'm not doing anything else at that particular moment, it doesn't appeal to me. When it's a habit, it's as easy as anything else. So I know one answer is to find the time every day just to write something, and eventually it'll grow.

    So while I don't have the answers for you, I do share in the same struggle. I think a program/training would be great because it has built-in accountability. But I, too, am skeptical of the price-for-value. I know @Jean Doan has taken a couple of online courses this year, perhaps she can weigh in? 

    I also know @Nick Kapling and @Maria Liccardo have done 10Q - maybe they can weigh in as well?


    Stay awesome,

  • 3.  RE: How do you find Professional Development Training?

    Posted 09-16-2021 14:54
    @Quinn Drew, I answered the 10Q questions for the first time last year, and just finished answering the set for this year! It was so interesting to see what I reflected on and predicted a year ago. I have to say, I feel pretty good about meeting some of the goals I entered last year, like digging into the migraine diet and taking control of my headache health. I happy to say, one year later, I totally dug in, and my migraines are remarkably better! 

    ​When answering the questions, I didn't allow myself more than a few minutes each...that way I wouldn't get wrapped around an axle and overthink it, and probably never finish. Just a couple minutes each day, and I'm already looking forward to seeing what my answers reveal next year.

    Maria Liccardo

  • 4.  RE: How do you find Professional Development Training?

    Posted 09-15-2021 11:15
    Hi folks, 
    I agree with @Quinn Drew about the value of something like 10Q to really get the reflective and motivated juices flowing. I also agree about the need to really set time aside for it. Some companies are better at helping you do this than others. Some companies have a lot of possible learning opportunities available, as long as you do have the time. Northwestern has a tile for Learning & Performance  in our MyHR Oracle widget landing page, a tile which connects to both self-paced trainings built by the University for the University on processes and protocols as well as access to the vast array formerly known as Linda, which is now a part of LinkedIn (someone do correct me if these details are amiss). Anyway, my biggest barrier this past year has been that I really enjoy and value so much more the opportunities which are in-person, or at least live/synchronous, and with other people, led by someone who is also live/synchronous and interactive. And the pandemic hasn't really allowed a lot of this. At least not in house at NU. So, when I did need to meet my own PD goals last year, I completed some free LinkedIn training classes I was able to find using the key terms in NU's learning database, and they were excellent (for what they were, which was recorded presentations with built in quizzes). 

    Has anyone else used the LinkedIn coursework? What have you taken? The things I've taken (one much shorter than another) were both leadership oriented in terms of management. They were not so cleverly entitled "Management Foundations" and "Management Tips"-but like I said, the courses themselves weren't as dry as the names.  The best things about the LinkedIn pre-recorded presentations are that you can finish them as fast and slow as you'd like with use of "pause" and that there are so many you can also search for things with a certain length in mind. 

    Another thing I've reached into for PD this year has been a bit on the stretchier side: Atlas Obscura. AO now has a lot of online "experiences" which are educational and sometime skill or craft based. This may not naturally or easily align with everyone's PD needs, but if you look closely, there will be a ton of transferable skills from those activities and sessions (some of multi-session seminars and workshops). For instance, I recently watched something called "Secrets of the Game Makers" which was a behind-the-scenes look with a Kickstarter designer talking about some different games and gaming companies he's worked with/for and narrowing down on specific types of puzzles we can find across different types of games--what makes them challenging, what makes them valuable for the player, why things are satisfying or not... And it was eye-opening: not only for the research I am doing on a class I'd like to offer next summer for middle schoolers on Game Theory, but also for reflection and  understanding my own experiences with how we learn systems in a work environment.  ​


  • 5.  RE: How do you find Professional Development Training?

    Posted 09-16-2021 09:01
    Greetings, All,

    Great topic @Alison Randall.  Love your 10Q @Quinn Drew

    For me, Professional Development (PD) is staying current on business evolution and acquiring trending skills to stay relevant.  I do this by reading something about business every day that relates either to my job directly or to business in general.  I subscribe to a variety of newsletters and blogs to stay current on global business thinking, what's new in cloud computing to know what's dangerous and what the tools are and how to use them, as well as on job-specific areas of interest like change management, personnel practices  and DEI.  You get the idea.

    As far as certifications and classes are concerned, I try to find classes that strategically support what I'm doing or what I think will be useful to me/my organization as business technologies and organizational thinking evolve. In the last couple of years I got my PROSCI certification (which validated an accidental but profoundly long career managing change in companies reinventing themselves), Lean Six Sigma greenbelt,  and now I'm taking an online class in Building Taxonomies and Controlled Vocabularies because managing knowledge has become so important in business.

    The source for an online class needs to match the need, determine your learning objectives, first. 
    • If you need to learn something completely new look for a course that's offered from a provider with expertise, e.g., a university business school or from an individual subject matter guru.  Coursera is a good aggregator for those classes.  When I needed to learn about Product Management I took an intro class from UVa's business school and it was exactly what I needed to know.
    • If you want a certificate in a skill or discipline, you've got lots of options. Your company prefer a particular approach to a certain discipline and have already identified the source of learning. Check with the dept. that handles that.  Local universities and community colleges are good sources for certifications and continuing education.
    • Professional recommendations are helpful particularly when there is no relationship between the price of the learning and the quality of the course. Local universities and community colleges are great places to find reasonably priced classes and certifications.  E.g., When I was looking for a lean six sigma certification, the prices varied from a few hundred to a few thousand with the coursework looking identical. I consulted a  Six Sigma Black Belt professional and he looked at the programs and recommended the few hundred dollar one as being the best to meet my learning needs.   
    • Do you need to develop new or brush up on skills?  This is where those $12.99 courses are helpful. The quality is varied, but it's a great way to explore areas of interest, learn a little more ore refresh your understanding of something.  
    • There are lots of free videos and intros on YouTube that can lead you to providers you like.  It's nice to be able to "audition" a provider with their freebies, solve a problem and find a provider you like.
    • Follow the links.  When you're researching new things online, you will likely come across a blog, presentation, paper or discussion that excites you.  Follow up on the author. They may offer an educational opportunity.  I found my Taxonomy class by following up on a presentation I found online that spokes specifically to what I am trying to learn. 
    I think PD as a way of fostering and developing employees is overlooked. Some companies are proactive in this area, offering not only classes, but actively looking at the future of work to see what kind of a workforce they will need and what skills and abilities go with that need.  I don't think we always know "what we want to do when we grow up" so we don't necessarily know what professional development we personally need.  Perhaps Managers, HR departments, etal.  would be well served if they considered the employee's potential, the work need and ask, "Have you considered learning xyz so we can do this next thing?"   

    Recently a colleague who was looking for PD opportunities to advance her career asked me why I took the Six Sigma course and whether or not I was applying it in my current job.  The answer was that I wanted to learn the structured discipline as it's understood in general and find places in my work where process thinking (Lean)  is useful.  I will probably never do the higher level, statistical analyses that are native to six sigma, but understanding the statistical framework adds another facet to the way I approach problem solving and process. 

    This has been a long post.  In sum, I think Professional Development is about building a toolbox that helps you get the job done and move on to the next, bigger, better thing.  You don't use them all at once, and you'll be prepared to do the best job you can.

    Cheers, everyone.


    Colette Martin-Wilde

  • 6.  RE: How do you find Professional Development Training?

    Posted 09-16-2021 14:46
    @Alison Randall, I like pretty much anything from the American Management Association (AMA). I have taken many of their in-person classes, live webinars, and e-learning courses. They create high-quality course materials and have a lot of topics that are of interest to me...not all boring management stuff, lol.​

    Maria Liccardo

  • 7.  RE: How do you find Professional Development Training?

    Posted 10-01-2021 10:50
    I loved it when we could travel. Three years ago, or maybe it was four, my boss at the time let me go to the ACES conference for copyeditors and editors. It helped that she was president of the association that year!! :) I can't tell you how much I got out of that, besides being able to roam around in historic Providence, Rhode Island after hours. I was fired up for weeks to be a better editor and copyeditor. Even bought a new dictionary.
    More recently, the entire Digital Content team has been working through Search Engine Optimization webinars online. It's been a bit basic but insightful. It is amazing how training like this -- although my initial tendency is to think of it as a chore -- can reinvigorate.

    Arnold Grahl