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Professional development doesn't need to cost you an arm and a leg.I recently led a workshop with supervisors and had someone ask, "What do you recommend as affordable strategies for professional development?" We polled the room and below is a list of what other supervisors shared as well as some of my own recommendations:
- Look for free/low cost resources from regional or local chapters of professional associations. Free/low cost resources may include: in-person events, webinars, listservs, job aids, articles, white papers, annual reports, etc. If you find that there is a benefit to becoming a member (e.g. access to "members only" resources, mentoring programs, etc.) propose your department cover the cost of membership. Offer to present a recap of what you learn to others on your team or in your department/division or create a brief, summary handout to email others.
- Follow blogs written by major players in your field. For any major players in your field, do a google search to see if they a) have a website and/or b) have a blog you can subscribe to and follow. You will want to use a tool to help you manage and filter content you subscribe to; consider an RSS reader tool (learn more here) or using filters in your email.
- Learn about internal professional development support within your organization. Before spending money on learning experiences outside of your organization, look within your organization to confirm you know what resources are available. Ask your internal resources, like Human Resources, for guidance on clarifying what is available. (At SLU, you have access to SkillSoft content through your MySLU tools, University library resources, as well as instructor led training or consulting services from Learning & Development in HR.)
- Take free classes through groups like Coursera or EdX. Coursera and EdX partner with Universities, colleges, and experts to create and offer free online courses. You can sign up with as an individual or encourage friends and colleagues to sign up with you and form a study group. Topics vary widely!
- Reach out to others who do like work at similar organizations and create your own informal network. Leverage the power of LinkedIn, for example, to find others who work in like-organizations and in like-roles. Ask if an individual or their entire team would like to get together simply to meet and discuss challenges.
- Share what you learn with others to cultivate an informed network and promote yourself as a source for professional development. Your sharing strategies may be informal, like emailing interested people, or more formal, like creating a personal blog, posting to LinkedIn, or collaborating with other colleagues in your department/division to create a newsletter to send out.
- Mine your job for opportunities to develop yourself. Check out my earlier blog post to learn more: 4 Ways Your Job is Your Best Classroom.