One of the greatest disservices you can do to yourself is to leave your development up to someone else. I’m talking personal and professional, but especially professional. By leaving what you learn and who you get to know up to your company or boss, you are inevitably taking the most important entity, you, out of the equation. Because nobody knows what you want out of your life like you do. Nobody knows what makes you tick and gets you going like you do. And nobody knows your strengths, passions and dreams like you. So why on earth would you leave something so important up to someone else? Here are 5 things to do that will undoubtedly give you absolute control over the development of your career.Network
I won’t spend a lot of time on this because I’m sure you’ve heard it all before. Many times, it’s not what you know, but who you know. Speaking from experience, I know that this has stalled my career development and caused me to take certain paths because I didn’t see light in any of the others. Now that I’m dipping a toe in networking, I’m starting to see things a little clearer. It’s all about putting yourself out there because you never know who you can help or who can help you.Attend Industry Conferences and Events
There is so much to be learned from industry conferences and events. Not only do you get to network, but you get to see what’s really out there when it comes to your field. There may be aspects of your field that you had no idea existed and may better support your career ambitions. Not only this, but the takeaways from these conferences are often priceless. From industry secrets to nuggets of wisdom, attending these types of events is a great way to chart your career path.Utilize Continuing Education
In most fields, mine included, continuing education units or CEUs are a requirement to stay licensed or working in a certain area. The good thing about these continuing education courses are that, in some case, the student is able to choose the course(s) that go along with a certain learning objective. For example, I remember feeling like I’d stumbled onto a goldmine when completing some required CEUs a while ago. Because in addition to my required “Infection Control” and “Understanding Aging” courses, there were a plethora of courses on other topics that interested me, such as case management, leading social change and understanding grief. Would I have a degree or grade after completing the course? No, but I would have definitely expanded my knowledge and got some nice tidbits to go under the ‘Professional Development’ area of my resume.Volunteer
Sometimes, all the education in the world won’t automatically seat you in your perfect career. You, like many other young professionals, find yourself in “the cycle.” You can’t get a job because you don’t have the experience, but you can’t get the experience because you don’t have the job. It’s frustrating. It’s irritating. It’s discouraging. Volunteering, however, brings forth a solution to this conundrum. By volunteering, you place yourself in a unique position to help others as well as yourself. You are able to gain valuable experience and skills by learning while doing. Interested in training and development? Volunteer as a course instructor for new volunteers, etc. Since one of my long term goals is to create, develop and evaluate human services programming, I recently began volunteering to do just that with an organization at my alma mater. The director of the program was able to incorporate my goals in with her program needs. Volunteering is definitely a win-win.Take on tasks outside of your job description
Learning is, by far, the best way to develop your career on your own terms. By taking on tasks outside of your job description, you are aligning yourself to become a resource and are expanding your skill set You not only know about ABC, but you’re also an expert in XYZ. You become an asset and nobody wants to lose an asset.
These are just a few ways to develop your career into what you want it to be. There are so many ways out there and so many ways yet to be discovered. The main idea, though, is to recognize that your career develop is nobody’s responsibility but yours. If your career path is veering off to the left and you don’t like it, do something about. You hold the compass.