#048 External Education Opportunities

External Education Opportunities

In episode 47, I talked about taking advantage of your company’s internal training opportunities. I also talked about 7 strategies for creating one-on-one professional development opportunities for yourself, regardless of whether or not your employer has formal programs like these.

Today, let’s talk about continuing your education outside your current employer.

University Continuing Education Departments

Most universities, particularly those in larger cities, have a Continuing Education department. These departments are an external arm of the university, and typically offer a range of professional development courses.

These courses generally fall into one of three categories:

  1. A cluster of courses leading to a certification or other professional credential

  2. Stand-alone courses that provide you with targeted knowledge

  3. Courses created for a specific employer/industry, with training specific to that employer or industry

A note about any training you attend: keep a folder so that, when you update your resume, you’ll have ready access to the specifics of your professional development. This folder can also be a handy place to keep any certificates or other documentation you receive for attending.

For-Profit Training Companies

When I worked in higher education, I regularly got brochures from Fred Pryor, Skill Path, and other for-profit companies that were providing in-person training in a city near me.

I’m sure some of these companies no longer exist and others have sprouted up, and not all of them have a great reputation. So do your due diligence if you see a course you’re interested in to make sure it’s a good expenditure of your employer’s money.

These for-profit training companies can be particularly effective for you to get training on a targeted subject that your employer isn’t likely to offer.

Targeted Coursework at a University as a “Non-Degree-Seeking” Student

Perhaps you want to take a course in marketing or accounting at a university as a non-degree seeking student. You may also be able to audit a class, which simply means you take the course but don’t get a grade or any formal recognition that you took the class.

Many of my clients seek out courses they can take at Ivy League schools, so they have that university’s name on their resume.

Conferences, Workshops, or Seminars Offered Through Your Professional Associations

Your professional associations are often the best source for professional development that is specific to the work you do. Many offer an annual conference, along with more frequent workshops and seminars that may be offered in-person or online.

Attending conferences has the added benefit of exposure to other professionals in your field. Many have an infrastructure in place for employers with open positions to source candidates at the conference, and even interview on-site.

Another benefit of professional associations is the opportunity to serve on committees that give you exposure to a wide range of people in your field. I have served on committees for new professionals, the planning committee for the annual conference, and on executive boards. Many of the people I met on these committees are still my friends today.

The Graduate Degree

How do you determine if it’s the right time for you to pursue a graduate degree? How do you determine if you even should pursue a graduate degree? Here are my guidelines:

DO seek a graduate degree IF:

  • You are very clear on your career path, and know that a graduate degree will help you move up, OR
  • You have maxed out in your career field without a graduate degree, AND
  • Your work schedule will allow you to fully commit to the program once you’ve entered

DON’T seek a graduate degree:

  • To avoid entering or continuing in the job market (there are less expensive ways to hide from your life), OR
  • If you are unclear about what you want to study, OR
  • Just because you have an interest in a particular field (unless you are independently wealthy), OR
  • If you’ve started a new job less than a year ago. You have a learning curve for your job that doesn’t leave much room for anything else, AND
  • If your work schedule is erratic, you work incredibly long hours, or in any way can’t fully commit to the program.

Many employers offer tuition reimbursement for continuing your education, and this is a topic you can ask about in the job interview. Be sure to find out the finer points of the reimbursement program, such as length of time you have to be in the position before you are eligible, or how long you have to work for the organization after completing the degree.

Interested in a deep dive with me? Register for my next webinar. In addition to great content, you’ll have the opportunity to ask me questions and even get coached by me live! Here’s the link to find out about this month’s topic, date, and time: http://exclusivecareercoaching.com/webinar-sign-up/

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