This blog is part of a series of blogs written by the Business Area Advisors for Propel Careers. These blogs share insights into the life sciences industry and thoughts on career guidance. To learn more about the business area advisors of Propel, see link: http://www.propelcareers.com/index.cfm/about-us/advisors/
There is no question that education is one of the best assets that will jump start professional development. Education is the cumulative knowledge that you gained through various formal and informal engagements. Your formal education involves the process of obtaining knowledge through schools where the roles of teachers and students are properly established. Although knowledge obtained through this process is valuable in your professional development, the informal education has been proven to be as valuable.
Similarly, informal education in professional development also involves the exchange of knowledge with one another. Throughout your professional career, you are working with other professionals with diverse backgrounds and experiences. During your professional interactions, you are also constantly exchanging knowledge with your colleagues. One day you are the recipient; another day you are the contributor. Consciously or unconsciously, you are gaining knowledge through this informal setting. However since there are not formal exams in this educational endeavor you become your own mentor.
Inarguably, the informal education you receive during your job training is also very important for your development. According to the 70/20/10 rule, on-the-job experience and problem solving are responsible for 70% of your development; the other 20% comes from feedback you receive. Only 10% is coming from the formal courses and reading. Whether you are currently employed or still in school, you should take this form of education seriously.
There are several ways on how you can obtain informal education for your professional development. Here the six takeaways for your informal development plan:
1. Active in a professional association
Be active, I don't mean just being an active member of a professional association. Although you might get some benefits for being an active member, the most benefits are obtained when you are actively engaged with the organization. So it is important that your are motivated by the mission of the association. For example, volunteering in task forces will actually allow you to work with some other professionals in the field. Sometimes, you might find yourself working with a leader in your industry. Organizing professional events is another way to capitalize your informal development through the professional association.
2. Trade show
Personally, I am always a big fan of attending trade show. I suggest attending trades shows that are not in your field. There are substantial information and knowledge being transferred when you are conversing with the salespersons. Besides, you can always learn of the others' perspectives and values.
3. Find a mentor and a mentee
If you believe that you can learn from one another, a mentor/mentee relationship is the one you should never overlook. You should also search for not only an internal mentor, but also an external one. A mentee will serve your professional development purpose as well as a mentor. The caveat is to find the right mentor and mentee whom will match your interests.
When you network, you should always try to expand your circle beyond your industry circle. You would be amazed on how much you would learn from professionals from a different field. Sincerity and willingness to help are two of the most key important aspects for effective networking. Don't network when you are in need; but do so when you have the capacity to help. When you are trying to help out the other person, you subconsciously force yourself to disrupt regular thinking patterns. If you care about the ideas and perspectives of others, it is an innate response. This is a non-obvious development opportunity for you to tap.
5. Focus on quality and not quantity
It is not the measure on how much you know that eventually define your knowledge. It is the matter of how much you do to what you know. You should always seek to find the lessons learned and transferable skills from each of the project you are involved with. Have a document with some metrics to keep track of your professional development. Be creative, and reflect on these developments for professional and personal growth.
6. Share your knowledge
Eventually, what would knowledge do to you if you do not share it? Remember that education is the exchange of knowledge. The only way to keep gaining more knowledge is to keep it flowing. Once you have the intention to share, you instantly open yourself to absorb even more.
Looking forward to meet you in my informal education process...