There are many benefits to creating and using a professional development plan. It keeps you current within your industry and enhances your skill set, aiding your advancement within your career. But where should you start your professional development plan?
Self-Assessment and Goal Setting
The first step should be self-assessment. Take a self-assessment of your skills, your strengths, and where you can improve. One way to accomplish this is to reflect on past projects you have worked on and list what went well and what did not. Another way is to ask peers, mentors, and supervisors for feedback. After finding the skills you have, list the skills you need for where you want to be professionally.
Once you have completed your self-assessment, you should start setting some goals. Think about where you want to be, and then list the steps needed to achieve this goal. Afterward, break down these steps into manageable SMART goals. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
Building a Diverse Learning Portfolio
Building a diverse learning portfolio is also crucial in professional development. You will be a more well-rounded professional by incorporating a mix of education, workshops, webinars, mentorship programs, and internship experiences. A diverse portfolio will also aid you in building upon both your technical skill set, which directly relates to your career, and your soft skills, which can benefit you in all aspects of life.
Networking and Mentorship
By having a diverse learning background, you have already laid the groundwork for your next step: networking. This act may seem difficult for those who work in non-client-facing fields, but there are ways to build upon your networking skills. The simplest way to network is to attend workshops, seminars, and conferences within your field of work. A way to connect with people outside of your local area would be to join online communities, such as LinkedIn, and connect with other professionals by joining their groups and participating in their discussions.
As you are networking, consider finding a mentor to help guide you through your professional development plan. They can provide suggestions to accomplish your goals better and hold you accountable in your development plan, setting scheduled meetings every few months to discuss your progress.
Regular Review and Adaptation of Professional Development Plan
The final step in your professional development plan is continually reflecting upon your progress and creating new goals once you complete the old ones. Through continuous professional development, you will keep up with the ever-changing trends within the industry. This way forward will also prepare you if you ever want to change your career, within or outside the industry.
Now, you are ready to start professional development planning and become a more robust, well-rounded professional.