Um, my voice is a little rough. I want to call it out just cause travel, whatever, uh, changing of seasons across Scotland and Buffalo, New York and Louisville, Kentucky. And I’ve got to turn around and go back to Texas for a wedding this week. I’m just, it’ll be, it’ll be nice when the travel’s done. But it’s so good to be back on Appendix B talking with you.
And talking about professional development in particular, because first off, Bravery Media has a survey that’s out. We’re trying to do a study among Higher Ed marketers about the professional development opportunities that are available to them.
So if you’re listening to this episode and haven’t filled out the survey, please do, you can go to bravery.co. And it’ll take you right to it. Also there will be a link on our website. But any feedback that you can give on that survey will be super helpful.
And we think professional development is so important because it’s really the only way that people have an opportunity to advance in their career in a very specific, purposeful sort of way.
And today, I wanted to talk to you, Kristin, about the different types of professional development that are available, because I think a lot of times in our roles at institutions, we think of professional development as an annual conference or maybe buying some books or that LinkedIn Learning, lynda.com subscription that the university has available for us. But what are some of the other types of professional development that you find are maybe a little bit more valuable that we don’t often get a chance to participate in on our campuses?
Kristin Van Dorn:
Well, I think you’ve actually covered like some top tier professional development opportunities that we think about. So, we often think about informal professional development. So that might be listening to podcasts. It might be watching YouTube videos. It might be downloading some books from Libby.com and it’s just a way for you to sort of enhance your own skills for you to feel like you’re a master of your craft, right?
But then there are more specific ones there’s oftentimes institutionally sponsored professional development opportunities so those might be run by your college or your university.
Oftentimes, they’re about compliance or creating a baseline consensus of what’s expected of you. So you could think about that in terms of the sort of DEI trainings. This is to build consensus among people about what our expectations for our community culture are going to be.
Or compliance trainings are often about like, what are some new pieces of legislation that are all going to affect the university campus life, campus culture that we need to be aware of and be able to attune our communications and marketing to as necessary. Then there are ones that are more about going out seeking like technical skill upgrades.
So Joel, you were talking about conferences or even LinkedIn Learning, I would say LinkedIn Learning is probably that informal type, but maybe not as long as you’re tracking your hours and maybe your offices are recognizing the work that you’re doing there. But what you’re looking for is that technical upgrade into your skill. There’s broader ones that are more about like, how do you manage your time? Or how do you think about being a good boss?
These aren’t necessarily technical skills, they’re more like enhancing your soft skills or your professional demeanor. They’re still incredibly important for that advancement. And then probably the last kind is to pursue Higher Education more deeply. So is it going back for that MBA or is it getting a certificate in a specific area?
Or is it even pursuing a PhD? So there are lots of different reasons why people would take advantage of any of these opportunities. And all of them have some upsides and maybe some drawbacks for your career.
And I think a lot of times we don’t recognize all those different avenues or take advantage of them. And part of that is because our workloads in Higher Ed are so intense that it’s difficult to say like, oh, you want to go back for an MBA? How do you, how do you manage that when, you know, 40 hours a week is considered a minimum by your supervisor or you’re working on some giant project or giant campaign that’s just taking up all of your mental space, even when, even when you’re back home.
I mean, I remember, you know, I did my master’s degree while I was working a full-time job. And the master’s degree was partially professional development, partially because it sounded fun. Media studies, I think, actually applies a lot to the work that I’ve done over the years. And I use a lot of the training that I got in semiotics and understanding of how information is mediated and how we interact with people and how digital communities are built. I use that all the time in the work that I do now, but when I was getting that master’s degree, I didn’t have the opportunity to do that program at the university I was working at.
I actually didn’t have the opportunity to do any good program that would help me in my professional capacity at that university that I was at. So for some people that maybe work at smaller regional colleges and universities or at schools that don’t have marketing programs or business programs or MBAs or things like that, it’s a lot more difficult because you’re not getting that tuition covered in the same way that you might if you’re working a job for a tech company or that sort of a thing or if your school actually offers those programs and it can be very difficult.
And so on top of the time and mental commitment to complete a master’s or a doctorate or something else that’s post baccalaureate, you are just kind of stuck if your school doesn’t actually offer that because most institutions are not going to pay for you to go to another college or another university or another program, another institution. And so then you have to kind of fill in the gaps, right?
And sometimes that’s brought up by those kind of more informal ways I think that you were talking about. It’s the lynda.com or the LinkedIn Learning type of stuff or it’s finding other ways to do to get training done for things that are specific to your career. But I think even in Higher Ed, there aren’t a ton of options for that.
And that’s kind of what we’re trying to figure out, like to assess, like are we right on that? Are we wrong on that? How can the industry itself better support our colleagues at institutions that are doing marketing work? And the first step is to figure out what are those opportunities that are available and how are those opportunities being made available to people without them having to spend money out of their own pockets.
Yeah, there’s a reason why “physician heal thyself” is a saying. It’s because oftentimes the things that we’re able to do best in the world to provide services for other people, we’re often the worst at accepting ourselves. So institutionally speaking, universities and colleges sometimes are low on the scale of being able to provide professionals development and educational training to their staff.
They might offer some discounts on courses, they might offer some tuition waivers, but sometimes they also make the work-life balance so challenging to just hold a full-time job that squeezing in time to do extra to advance in your career or to advance in your technical prowess can feel exorbitantly draining.
So I think that there are strategies that universities and colleges could take advantage of that would build the bandwidth so that their staff can feel like they have opportunities to develop their skill sets and tools so that, A, they’re incentivized to stay with campus so that they can continue and move about in their roles in advance and continue to provide better and more knowledgeable work.
But also so that universities feel like they are equipping all of their staff members with the tools they need to do their jobs effectively. So it’s a retention issue and it’s also making sure that you’re getting the best out of your employees.
So please consider taking our professional development survey. It is so that we can conduct some analyses across the field and see where these weak spots are and make those more publicly known so that as a field we can begin to address some of the gaps so that we can make sure that you have expertise in the technical skills that you need but also in the environment inside of Higher Education that you need.
This just takes 10 minutes. Head to bravery.co/survey and fill that out for us. We really appreciate it!