Later this week, I’m heading to New Orleans for the SHRM Annual Conference. For me, the conference will be filled with wonderful networking opportunities and informative educational sessions in the setting of one of the biggest foodie cities in the world. What more could I ask for?
Every time I attend a conference, I think about my early days in HR. Those days when I was new or junior in the organization. It was sometimes difficult to convince senior management to spend the money to let me attend a conference. As a result, I quickly learned to take responsibility for my own professional development.
Yep, that’s right…I decided it’s not the company’s responsibility to fund my professional development.
Over the years, I negotiated with my employers to attend conferences, get certifications, and participate in programs with a part of the funding coming from me personally. My bosses always said that they were more receptive to my proposals because I had a “stake in the game.”
And, during those times when neither I nor my company could afford for me to attend an out-of-state conference, I’d attend something locally. Or I’d find someone to share expenses with. But I found ways to get access to professional development. Sometimes I would attend via ‘sweat equity’ – I’d apply to be a speaker hoping the conference organizers would assist with travel expenses. And, in some of my volunteer roles, I was given the opportunity to attend conferences (with the non-profit assuming or subsidizing the expense.)
Now that I’m self-employed, I still budget for professional development. I can’t imagine why any organization would purchase the services of a consultant who’s not spending any time and/or money in keeping their skills fresh.
Why do I bring this up? Because, as I’m getting ready to leave for New Orleans, I’m reminded that I’m in control of my professional development. I’m planning and preparing what I’ll do so I can make the most of the event. This isn’t my vacation. That doesn’t mean I won’t have fun, but I have stuff to do.
Whether you’re heading to NOLA or not, take a moment and think about your professional development. What are you doing? How are you staying on top of your game? And, who is in control of it?0