Academic studying will be key to helping you achieve the career you want. But when the exams are all completed and the results are in and you’re working in your first job, your training has only really just begun.
Professional development is a continual process ongoing throughout your career. It is the learning that occurs every time you undertake an activity outside your normal routine, both within and outside of the working environment.
Continuing professional development (CPD) is about recognising the development and learning activities that you are already engaged in, documenting these activities, taking control of your learning and professional development and formulating a plan for future development.
Spotting the opportunities
You’ll learn and understand a great deal in the first few years of your career. Signing up to a CPD scheme means that you can take control of your own professional development. Opportunities and experiences will exist on many different levels and can include:
- Attending a conference.
- Mentoring a colleague.
- Secondment to other areas.
- Involvement in project teams.
- Attaining additional qualifications.
- Committee work.
- Writing specific papers or articles.
- Attending meetings.
Not all of these may apply, but the important point here is to realise the amount of different situations and experiences that will keep you learning and developing. CPD will give you an appreciation of skills and training issues from the perspective of allied professionals, such as marketing, IT and finance.
You’ll gain great insight into how to contribute effectively for innovative solutions across the business.
By monitoring and recording any learning events, you will be able to easily identify areas that you may require specific training on or need exposure to. This sort of mechanism will also enable you to create a framework within which to work, setting short and long-term goals, both in a personal and professional sense – an invaluable tool when it comes to your appraisal time.
How can CIPS help with CPD?
Many professional institutes such as CIPS have a scheme in place so you can select and record the relevant activities and develop your career. The starting point is to consider how you learn best and under what circumstances – i.e. in groups, by studying alone or by watching others. The level of knowledge you need may be different. Just gaining a quick insight into a topic or skill may be enough, or achieving a more in-depth expertise in certain areas may be crucial to you and your business.
The importance of the CIPS CPD scheme is not just the learning activity itself but measuring the outcome of your learning. Keeping an ongoing record of your activities throughout the year, will help you analyse and reflect on your progress to longer-term goals. For example you could:
- Describe the activity.
- Explain your reason for selecting it.
- List the key learning points.
- Describe the application of your learning and the benefits to you and your organisation.
- Provide any supporting evidence.
- Include comments and observations.
- Put a nominal points value on the activity.
At the end of the year you submit a summary of your activities and learning outcomes to CIPS where it is recorded, and then you can move on to your next year of learning.