Monday, August 22, 2011

Continuing Education

How do you stay on the leading edge? Whether you're an author, photographer or doula there's always something new to learn. Continuing education is an important step to staying at the forefront.

As a doula, every three years I re-certify to keep my credentials up to date. I don't have to, but thus far I have wanted to, in order to stay fresh in my mind. This re-certification process requires me to be active in the community, to read relevant literature, and of course work with laboring women.
Here are a few ways we all can stay active and learn something to help further our career goals.
  • Take a college class. The subject need not be limited to one area. Explore. Be creative. Enjoy the learning experience. Then apply what you have learned to your area of expertise. There are many classes available for free online. Check with your local community college and see what special tuition plans they may have.
  • Volunteer. If you have a skill, such as photography, volunteering can be a great way to get some time behind the lens. Plus it helps with your people skills and networking.
  • Tutor. Help a young person with their schoolwork. Homeschooling a child fits into this category as well.
  • Read a good book (or more) on your specific career. Write a report about it, this will help you to retain the knowledge you've learned and come in handy if you need a book review in the future.
  • Write an article and submit it to a magazine for publication. The research will do you good!
  • Start a blog, one that requires you to post relevant information about your specific field. This will keep your mental juices flowing to be sure! (this is a great idea, wonder where it came from....)
  • Create a portfolio of your work. Not only can this be used to show prospective clients, but it is a review of your career to date, which you can asses your progress and see where you need to apply your energy to improve or change something. We often think of a portfolio in regards to photography, but we need not limit a portfolio to only the arts, apply it to your other businesses as well. Make a list of your published books (with a photo of the cover) and short summary of each one. Think about putting together a multi-media presentation, like a Power Point, that can be shared with civic or school groups. Share your story with people, or offer then something educational that you have learned in your research.
  • Attend a Seminar/Conference. There is a wealth of information to be gathered at business or specialized seminars. Take plenty of notes and bring them home to share with others in your business.
  • Take a Tax Class. B.O.R.I.N.G. I know, but hear me out... We all have to file our annual love letter to the IRS, being up to date on current tax trends or changes can't hurt, right? It may not help you write a better novel, or learn new laboring techniques, but it can keep you in business!
When we think of continuing education, most people limit that to college courses or business seminars both of which are excellent sources. Think outside the box in this realm, anything that increases your knowledge base or enhances your business skills is continuing education! Your imagination is your only limit. Be sure to share your experiences with our MHW readers!