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Communications Design Industry Discussion, Inspiration, & Tutorials

May 21, 2013

DIY Professional Development


I know it's practically unheard of in our field, but some companies don't offer professional development opportunities. If you're in that unfortunate boat you’ll need to work a bit harder to keep advancing your skills.

Why Professional Development?
As graphic/ web designers and communications professionals we must always be learning and developing our skills. Although the messages that we craft are largely unchanged, our (software) tools advance at increasing speed, and the technology (hardware) tools keep pace with that break-neck pace. So we've got to stay current to compete and remain marketable.

Get Cheap/Free Professional Development

  • Don’t Ignore Webinars! Professional development isn’t just about software and hardware. We also need to keep on top of techniques, conversations, and the theory of design. When you get invitations via email, check them out. As you may have learned, many free webinars are sales pitches, but not all of them. Look for ones that are directly linked to your area or interest: social media management, working with analytics, media development within a specific CMS, etc. 
  • Listen to Your Professional Networks! Professional groups on LinkedIn often post feedback on industry webinars, seminars, and conventions. I pay attention to what they have to say, and ask if they’ve attended an event that interests me.
  • Sign up for the newsletter! After finding and participating in a free webinar, sign up for the newsletter—you can always cancel if you’re inundated with useless messages. Arterz Interactive- http://www.artez.com/  is a great social media/marketing group that I follow on FB because that first excellent, free webinar that I attended two years ago.
  • Join more than one professional organization! I joined AIGA as a student and was excited to see all of the events that I got to attend at a free or reduced rate. Today, I work at a university and am a member of these organizations: Women In MarylandHigher Ed (WIMHE) , EduCause, Sloane-C Consortium. Membership gives me access to a ton of free webinars, seminars and networking opportunities.
  • Take a class! MOOCs are huge and offer free opportunities for professional development. Coursera is one of the largest MOOCs, but you can also check out (free or inexpensive) tutorial series from Lynda.com or Envato.  

Get them to Shell Out! Professional development is very important for you and your organization. If an upcoming seminar, webinar or conference is on your radar, find out if your company will pay for it. If they need some gentle prodding, list the benefits of attending your respective development activity. Here's a great list of reasons to attend The Annual meeting & Exhibition from the *American College of Nurse-Midwives:
“The ACNM Annual Meeting is the premier opportunity for midwives, students, and other women’s health care providers to polish professional and clinical skills, learn the latest evidence-based research, share knowledge and experiences, and celebrate the work that midwives are doing to advance maternity and women's health care.The educational line-up includes direct clinical practice matters, updates on changing state and national laws, regulations and quality initiatives, and ongoing efforts to improve access to safe maternity care globally. Attending the ACNM Annual Meeting is one of the best ways to learn about developments in midwifery and women's health and earn CEUs. Attendees can earn as many as 30 hours of credit.”
* Full disclosure: I'm former graphic designer for this professional organization. 

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