Guest commentator: Maggie March, Philadelphia Director, Arena Strategies and Co-Chair of YPC’s Professional Development Committee

Why are professional development opportunities beneficial for young professionals, regardless of one’s career field?

“You should never stop learning” is a phrase that is just as important in your career as it is in your education. Professional development opportunities are imperative for your career at every stage.  When you are a young professional just starting out, educational development and learning opportunities should be built into your career plan and regularly sought out. It can be easy to look at your career as just your job and what you do daily – but we spend so much of our lives working, it’s worth taking a step back and deciding that we want more out of our time. When you invest in your personal and professional growth regularly, you can easily evaluate whether you are growing and making positive strides towards your goals. Seeking out connections with your peers and finding opportunities to challenge yourself should not stop when you leave the classroom.

Check in with yourself regularly to see if you are on a path that is going to get you closer to your goals.  Are you getting out what you are putting in? Are you waiting on things to be brought to you instead of taking control of your personal and professional growth? Are you in charge of your career? Are you challenged? Doing things like seeking out mentors, finding speakers, authors and topics you are interested in, volunteering and expanding your professional network will force you out of your comfort zone and enrich your career.

Professional development events and forums should be taken advantage of whenever possible and seen as a space where you can refine your networking skills, meet new people, and hear about different industries and perspectives that you may not get in your 9-5.

I urge you to seek out further development through your companies and other organizations and learn what is offered to you in terms of setting personal and professional goals and helping you to challenge yourself and examining your career. In Philadelphia and the surrounding areas there are countless organizations dedicated to providing more.  Putting your professional growth up par with something like exercise and implementing it into your career at a young age is going to pay off tenfold throughout your career.