Four steps to beginning your independent learning as a nonprofit professional.
Nonprofits are not always the best places for nurturing professional development. Nonprofits mean well, we know better, but budgets are tight, overhead is still a fight. Consequently, we do a lot of learning on our own. And besides, we’re notoriously resourceful people, right? Nonetheless, it’s not easy. Generally, professional development is left up to each person to tackle -the motivation, the initiative, the curriculum, the information management, and finding the time.
This is a 4-part series on how to learn and retain learning.
- Where To Look For Resources
- Managing Your Learning Schedule
- Keep Your Learning Alive and Well
- Continue Making Progress
Where to look for resources
- Look for a community: There are many sources of learning opportunities. To begin, look for like-minded communities or groups. Perhaps you’re part of a professional association and there’s a members’ forum. Social media like LinkedIn and Facebook also have groups. These groups may not have what you’re looking for specifically, but if you ask the question, you may get many great recommendations for leaders to follow or books to read, or perhaps other groups to join.
- Where do you want this learning journey to take you? One question to ask yourself is what you want from your learning. Are you interested in staying current? Would you like a particular designation? What role do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years from now and what should you know to prepare for that? Answering these questions may help guide your professional development now. If you’re looking to upgrade your skills, for example earning a Project Management Professionals designation, take a look at the work involved, maybe now is the time to get started on the reading list.
- Google Alerts: This is especially useful if you work independently or in a silo. It can be challenging to keep up with industry news or changes if you don’t have other people to inform you. Google Alerts is a “content change detection and notification services,” Using your Google account you can set up an alert. An alert is an email that will be sent to you if any web content gets create or changes using any name or word you indicate. This is a great way to track a story, company, or person. You can get the alerts to come once a day, at a particular time.
- Continue with the Pearl Growing research method: Pearl Growing is a style conducting research. Specifically it refers to using one source, then using that source to further your research, and so on. For example, if you read an article, us the references in that article to find more articles. As you begin this search, you’ll start to see how much information is out there, just waiting for you to find it. For me, a lot of recommendations come from newsletters and podcasts. I’m quite committed to tuning in regularly to these media. In listening to an author I respect, I’ll note down any recommendations they suggest and follow up there. My reading list has grown quite substantially this way.
Next Newsletter we’ll look at how to make a consistent and realistic learning plan.