What are you doing for your career this month?

Photo credit: Brian A Jackson, Shutterstock
Photo credit: Brian A Jackson, Shutterstock

When it comes to professional development, we often focus on big, sometimes costly, endeavors like conferences or classes. And don’t get me wrong, classes and events are amazing ways to grow our skills and our networks. At the same time, are we overlooking the small things we can do on a regular basis to advance our careers?

Over on the YNPN-Triangle, NC blog, Molly Coyle outlines some of the things she did last month as part of her professional development. While she did take classes related to her career, she focused on small acts that she felt were integrated into her life. Here are a few that stood out:

  • I had a phone call with a mentor that led to actionable follow-up steps.

  • I drank coffee with a friend (who is one position senior to me) to learn about the skills needed to succeed in such a position.

  • I read one nonprofit-related article every. Single. Day.

  • I found a pro-bono opportunity to practice my grant-writing skills.

  • I sent a birthday email to a former supervisor — and got back a wonderful message full of advice on my career!

She adds,

The other trend I notice is that many of these activities are steps in an ongoing process. I encourage you to embrace this approach and think about your professional development plan as a series of building interactions rather than a bunch of one-off activities. Find something to follow up on: schedule another meeting, ask for a book recommendation, or click the link to learn more about a related topic. Stay curious, stay engaged, stay flexible.

Read the rest of her advice here.

If you’re wondering what skills you should focus on or how to get started, here are a few questions to explore.

What small steps will you take to strengthen your skills or network this month? Share them in the comments.

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Former Editor and Creator of Idealist Careers, a publication of Idealist.org. Follow me on Twitter @ajlovesya.
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    • Suzanne
    • September 10, 2014

    I’m making sure my current work project (that I am project manager and SW developer for) is a success. It is closest to the “dream” vs the “current” that I’ve gotten so far in my career. Took a couple of decades; keep on chuggin!

  1. When you have a good job it’s easy to get complacent. You like you work (maybe not love, but like), make decent money, enjoy the projects—but you aren’t super excited to get up in the morning. Remembering that you can make yourself better and one day turn those skills into a upward move is so important!

    • Layli
    • September 22, 2014

    Too often we think of applying to jobs as the way we get jobs. In fact, it’s actions like those listed in the article above that make a job search successful. Netorking is key at every stage of your job search, even, and perhaps especially, when you are not actively looking for a job. It’s important to rememeber that networking is a two-way street, and you’re often doing yourself the biggest favor when you think you’re doing a favor for someone else.

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