Own Your Own Professional Development

September 18, 2013
Own Your Own Professional Development Credit: Business Insider, Liz Linzer & Stanford

It is back to school time around the country as millions of students return to the classroom. Nearly twenty years after graduating from college, the fall still brings with it an impulse to take on new challenges and ambitions to learn. 

By the time we graduate from college, we have spent 17+ years in a classroom. We are programmed to define learning as something that involves a teacher, a classroom and books.

The vast majority of learning after college however is experiential and self-directed. Once you enter the workforce, your growth is largely a product of doing new things and reflecting on the experience. It is about taking on new challenges that stretch you.

For me, and the majority of successful people I know, the most rewarding learning experiences since graduating were serving on nonprofit boards and doing pro bono consulting projects. They stretched my skills and forced me to question my assumptions in powerful ways. They exposed me to new cultures and ways of getting work done.

These opportunities didn't just land on my lap. They required putting myself out there and letting folks know I wanted to serve. In fact, several folks said they never thought to ask me – assuming I was too busy. 

You just got to put it out there. And thanks to LinkedIn, now you can. Last week LinkedIn made it possible for all their gazillions of members to add a flag to their profile stating they're interesting in board and pro bono service.

As the school year starts, make an investment in your growth and learning. Put yourself out there and update your profile to let folks know you want to serve.