Are you set up for success? Here are 11 ways to boost your career prospects in the field of training and development

Larissa Zando is a graduate assistant and second-year student in Roosevelt's Training & Development program.

Larissa Zando is a graduate assistant and second-year student in Roosevelt’s Training & Development program.

Returning to school to advance your career may seem daunting, especially if you are working and have family obligations. It can be even more challenging for career-changers like me who are pursuing a master’s degree full-time and not only sacrificing income but also taking a career leap into the unknown.  Here are 11 strategies I have used to increase my chances of finding the ideal job after graduation.

1. Assess your abilities: Take a look at your competencies to assess your key skills and knowledge. You can do this by examining job descriptions, job applications and  consulting the ASTD Competency Model to identify your skills gap.

2. Feed your portfolio. When you complete a course, update your assignment to reflect feedback from peers and your professor.  Also, complete the “Supporting Theory” form and save an electronic copy of both documents for 499.

3. Network with fellow students. Many students are working full time and their employers may have internships or positions available.

4. Find a mentor. Find a professional who can guide you in the right direction. Obviously, make sure this person wants to work with you, but also find out if they have mentoring experience and can commit their time. I found my mentor through the Chicago Chapter of ASTD’s mentoring program

5. Seek centers of influence, trusted advisor, advisory board. These are terms used in my financial services background, where financial professionals seek out experts in related fields for networking and advice. I am adapting this to my new career path. I want to develop a group of key people with backgrounds and experiences outside my expertise to get ideas, advice, feedback and coaching.

6. Join industry organizations. Try Chicago Chapter of American Society of Training and Development, Organizational Development Network in Chicago, Chicago’s International Society of Performance Improvement, Chicago Organizational Development Institute Chapter, and the Chicago Coaching Federation. Attend meetings before joining to see if there is a fit. Find information on these organizations’ upcoming events here.

7. Sample industry organizations. Many of these groups need help with greeting and registering members, and being “buddies” to first-time meeting attendees. This is a great way to meet people and deepen relationships. The board members and the regular members will notice your effort and willingness to help the organization. Consider taking your involvement a step further by joining a group’s board.

8. Get an internship. This is a great way to quickly build experience in the field. Check the internship section of this blog for opportunities. For further questions and suggestions, contact Training and Development Graduate Program Coordinator Tara Hawkins at 847-619-8734 or thawkins@roosevelt.edu.

9. Volunteer. If you help out at a charity or belong to a religious group or church, see if you can create a training program or leadership development program for its volunteers and employees.  Some churches have religious education programs for new members. If you are working at a part-time job, ask if you can do an internship with that employer. If you are working full-time, ask your boss if you can help with training in your department or assist the training department on projects. Also, meet with key people in the training department and develop relationships with them. When a position opens up, you just might be the first person they think of.

10. Link up on LinkedIn. Create or update your profile to reflect work experience and career interests. Use LinkedIn to connect with fellow students, industry experts and stay abreast of career opportunities.

11. Update your resume. Since I am in process of changing careers, I updated my resume to reflect my new field. I used ASTD’s Infoline Series on Career Management (February 2007), Building Career Success Skills (June 2005), Build Your Training Portfolio (May 2009), Tune up Your Resume (January 2009), and Jumpstart Your Career and Get Hired Faster (September 2011). You can purchase these at http://www.astd.org.

I hope these suggestions help your transition into the field of training. The best advice I can give you is to network and build relationships. Getting a job is not only about having the correct skills but also the right connections. The people you meet in your graduate studies can be a valuable source of advice, coaching and mentoring in your career path.

What suggestions and tips can you provide others who are entering or trying to advance in this field? Can you recommend some resources that have helped you?

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About Eric

Eric Hahn is a graduate assistant in the Training & Development program and works as an editor, graphic designer and writer. He lives in Chicago and has a cat with a criminal mind.
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9 Responses to Are you set up for success? Here are 11 ways to boost your career prospects in the field of training and development

  1. Jocelyn Ashford-Yarbrough says:

    Larissa,

    I really appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts and provide some insight for those of us who may not be sure how to proceed to the next level. It was well written and had a lot of good information and suggestions.

    I wish you much success n your new career.

  2. Eric says:

    I concur. Good job, Larissa! This is a really useful post, especially for newbie students like me. It was a pleasure to read it and add it to the site.

  3. Vince Cyboran says:

    Excellent post, Larissa. Regarding #1, I would add that in addition to assessing one’s abilities, we can use this activity to help us focus our learning and skill development. It would be rare to find an individual who is strong in all the Areas of Expertise. When selecting course electives, I recommend that you focus on building a solid base for an AOE that interests you and will further your career. The core courses in our curriculum will ensure that you have some knowledge of all the AOE’s. I would not recommend selecting electives to strengthen an AOE in which you have little interest; there are plenty of free resources (webinars, blogs, etc.) on the Net available to help you come up to speed for areas in which you feel you need simply a ‘passing familiarity.’

    That said, school is a great place to try things out. If you’ve never designed or developed self-paced Web-Based Training (WBT), then go ahead and enroll in E-Learning Course Design (TRDV 439) and E-Learning Course Authoring (TRDV 453). You may enjoy the experience and want to delve further into this area. Or, you may breathe a sigh of relief and know for certain that e-learning is definitely not for you. It’s your choice!

  4. Thanks Larissa, this is some great info. I had just been thinking about how I need to revise my resume to reflect my new career path, so #11 will hopefully prove very useful.

    Can you expound a little more on #2? I know about 499, but I’m not familiar with the “Supporting Theory” form.

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