First Job, ‘Professional Development’ and Me.

As I kind of alluded to in a previous post, I am feeling strangely stuck between my former life as an academic and my current job as a professional in higher education. Also, this being my first “real” job (I’m not counting my part-time or graduate assistant work), there are many uncharted workplace areas that I am uncovering. Perhaps this will turn into a series of posts, but for now here is my current dilemma: what exactly is “professional development” (PD) and how does it work?

I have a vague idea of what constitutes PD – attending meetings, going to new training seminars, maybe even a conference on productivity in the workplace. But I am a 26 year old academic advisor confronted for the first time with a job that does not necessarily fit with my previous ‘experience’ (writing and teaching on subcultural music), and also work that is primarily dictated by the whim of students’ queries, which we all know are fickle at best. Is there more to PD than meeting, seminars and conferences?

Working for a university provides myriad opportunities for academic, professional and even personal growth, and I suppose the primary issue I am having is finding out where I fit, and what the rules are for my engagement with professional/academic life. Coming from graduate school, where the entirety of my experience was focused on MY interests and strengths, this whole job thing is very strange, being accountable upwards to Directors and Deans as opposed to horizontally to students or major professors. Here is my worry, does PD apply solely to my current job, or can it be as broad and varied as my schedule and interests allow? Don’t get me wrong… there are quite a few great resources for advisors on campus, and I take advantage of them as much as I can. But could it be that my personal professional development is comprised of advising and discussion and networking and blogging and coursework, ect? As I am also a continuing student in Library and Information Studies, can my participation in a “Digital Scholars” discussion group be fair game too? Or my interest in Social Media and engaging students in that medium? Or my burning desire to land an internship to augment my Museum Studies Certificate?

Bottom Line: Does Professional Development have a personal aspect? What are my options? And ultimately, who decides what qualifies, myself or my superiors?

PS. To be clear, I am very satisfied with my current work situation, and this topic was prompted because of my desire to be the best and most complete advisor I can. Just learning how to navigate the waters of the working world!

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2 thoughts on “First Job, ‘Professional Development’ and Me.

  1. Professional development, much like personal development, is not a means to an end. Whether you are painfully dissatisfied with your job or passionate about your work, it is imperative to embrace all forms of learning in areas that are related to your field of study, work or interest but also completely outside of it. What are your rules for engagement? Engage as much, as often as you can! Whatever sharpens your mind and challenges your thinking is professional development because all areas of your development are linked. So do it all, friend. Do it all.

  2. Pingback: Know thy audience « The Infornado

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