The problem with this question, like most of the questions I pose is that it depends on who you ask, which means the answers will vary. If I were to ask the high school students who attended one of my recent cover letter workshops, they would probably provide me with the name of an administrator. If I were to ask the countless number of employees that I assist with resume editing and preparation, the answers could range from leadership to the individual. Well, let’s pretend that I’ve asked one of the high school students who attended one my recent workshops:
Ericka: “John, who is responsible for your professional development?”
John: “Mrs. Smith.”
If Mrs. Smith and her peers across the nation are responsible for equipping our students with career resources and training, John may not be successful in the workplace. Our curriculums provide all students with core courses; the basics; a foundation if you will, but not all students have access to career and technical education courses. Some students participate in internships while attending high school, but how many of them are being introduced to 15-sec pitches, effective branding, professional networking strategies and successful interview preparation techniques (which by the way isn’t synonymous with mock interviewing)?
According to a 2012 survey conducted by UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, 46% of millennials feel they lack education and training to get ahead in their careers. John will find himself in the same position as some of the survey respondents; a graduate who is employed and is interested in succeeding in the workplace. Now that John is no longer a student, he is ultimately responsible for his professional development as well as the success of his career. Can he accomplish his professional goals alone? Absolutely not. Perhaps John can:
- · Find a mentor (or two): Mentors provide guidance in areas that are unfamiliar and there isn’t a rule which states you can only have 1 mentor at a time. If you are interested in Operations and Human Resources, why not have a mentor who has experience in HR and one who has experience in Operations?
- · Create a plan: I’ll never get tired of advising others to have a plan; a detailed proposal for achieving something. I didn’t plan for many years of my life; I couldn’t identify my strengths and I had no idea what I wanted accomplish professionally. For this reason alone, I advise others to have an idea of not just what they want, but a strategy of how they will get there.
If someone were to ask me, “Whose responsibility is professional development?”, I would have to say “ours.” Yes, an individual should be accountable and should take charge of their career, but we all know that in order to achieve success in any area of our lives will require the assistance of someone else. Professional development is no exception.