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Apr. 13, 2017

How to Build Skills Outside of the 9-to-5

Professional development is essential for your career and sense of personal accomplishment. But if your company isn’t offering opportunities for growth, how can you gain new skills on your own?

Whether you’re looking to be a better manager or gain a technical certification, there are many, often inexpensive, ways you can increase your skillset and achieve more rewarding career growth.

Volunteer at a local organization

Volunteering is a great way to gain experience while enjoying the satisfaction of helping your community. Contact a volunteer coordinator at a non-profit organization or look at their online listings to see what they need help with. You might get the chance to build a website, write a newsletter, or plan a fundraiser. Don’t worry about being unqualified—they will often provide training for anything you are willing to commit to.

Join a professional organization

Most industries have national and regional organizations you can get involved with. If you’re in the engineering field, consider the Hawaii Society of Professional Engineers. Are you a marketing professional? Check out Ad2 Honolulu or the American Advertising Federation (AAF). No matter which organization you choose, the point is to learn from other people in your industry. You can also join informal groups on LinkedIn and Facebook where other professionals in your field are networking and starting conversations.

Continue your education

In this day and age, it’s easy to expand your education without ever having to step foot into a classroom. Online programs like Coursera, Skillshare, and Khan Academy allow you to not only take courses you’re interested in—with topics ranging from Introduction to Finance to Advanced Mandarin—but they’re all self-paced. Some even offer a certification of completion which you can list on your resume.

Find a mentor

Identify someone in your profession who you admire and ask them if they would be willing to provide you with guidance. The mentor you choose should be willing to help you avoid the same mistakes they made, teach you crucial skills, and introduce you to their network.

Developing new skills is your responsibility, not your company’s, so it’s important to seek out opportunities to build them on your own. Even if you have to spend some of your own money to develop more in a specific area, consider it an investment in yourself.

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