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3 ways to grow professionally, outside the office

SOURCE: Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP
Do you have the necessary skills to help you stand out from the crowd?


By U2B Staff 

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Seeking out new responsibilities and honing your skills are all part of growing professionally. As such, continuous professional development has become essential for anyone who wants to remain relevant in the workforce. It will serve as a strong base for you to grow in your career, perform better in your job and open the door to more roles and opportunities in your current industry, or across a range of industries.

Digital transformation has also meant some tasks and roles in the workplace risk becoming automated. It is essential, more than ever, to build your skills to become an irreplaceable asset to your organisation.

Learning new skills will mean helping you stay relevant in the workplace and avoid falling behind in your career, necessitating lifelong learning. But to progress in your role or career does not only entail structured and formal learning. Growing professionally can take shape in many forms. 

Here are some ways of doing so: 

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Formal training and certifications 

Getting a master’s or an MBA degree is often seen as a tried and true way of climbing up the career ladder, depending on your career aspirations. Programmes such as an MBA can help you take your career to the next step into management-level positions, in addition to gaining the skills that would help you start your own business. 

While graduate degrees can be costly, you can also fill gaps in understanding certain aspects of your role or industry through online courses from microcredential providers, which offer more flexibility, both time-wise and financially, for you to upskill in. 

Microcredentials offer a variety of programmes that target different industries and can be a great way to personalise your learning. They’re also becoming increasingly recognised among organisations. Some of the popular microcredential providers include EDUCAUSE, edX, Udacity, and General Assembly. 

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Volunteer

Beyond participating in your company CSR initiative, volunteering for causes in your free time outside of work doesn’t merely have to be about giving back to the community. Volunteering can also help you build skills you lack and network, serving both as an opportunity for personal and professional development.

Whether it’s fundraising for a soup kitchen to going abroad to teach children from third world countries English, volunteering can put your leadership skills to the test, build your communication skills when dealing with people across a wide range of age groups and cultures to force you out of your comfort zone by trying new tasks.

It also serves as a nice break from the corporate grind.

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Mentoring 

Have you ever thought about having a mentor or mentoring others?

Whether or not mentorships take place formally or informally, research suggests they can be highly beneficial for both mentor and mentee. It’s unsurprising why 70% of Fortune 500 companies offer some form of a mentoring programme.

Having a mentor can help mentees develop in various areas, be it in carving long-term career goals, growing their network, and/or overcoming challenges with their role in the workplace, to name a few.  

At the end of the day, growing professionally doesn’t necessarily have to follow a linear path. Which one you choose, be it one of the three suggestions above, or a combination of them will indubitably serve you well in your personal and/or professional capacity.