Keeping up with your Career through Professional Development

by Jennifer Devine, Head Editor, INALJ Maryland

Keeping up with your Career through Professional Development

Jennifer DevineOne of the great and frustrating things about being an Information Professional is that information is ALWAYS changing! Most of the information you gain from you Master’s Degree eventually will be outdated within a year or so of graduating, which is why we have professional development. I’m sure you have heard of this term before, but what does it actually mean? Well there are many meanings for it. The meaning I prefer to use is that Professional Development is improving the knowledge and skills for personal and professional improvement.

There are many ways in which you can obtain Professional development.

  • One option which is costly is going for a PHD. A PHD usually involves the same types of classes taken in a master’s program but there are different requirements i.e. longer papers, advanced readings, and a thesis in lieu of a portfolio.
  • Another option is that you can get a second masters degree which can help to specialize your interests English and History are common ones, Art History is a good one for working in an Art Museum, but this option can be costly. Post Certificate Master Degrees are also an option that you can use. San Jose State, SimmonsUNC, Indiana, Drexel, Florida StateCUA, and Wayne State to name a few all have Post-Master’s Degrees and are accredited.
  • There are also Specialization Certificates you can get these from ALA, SAA and other creditable organizations. Some of these certificates include the Certified Public Library Administrator program; Library Support Staff Certification; Digital Archives Specialist; and the Certified Archivist Certification when doing a certificate make sure you do your research! Many certificates require that you take continuing education credits to keep your certification current. You may also be required to recertify after a specified amount of time. If you are interested in a certificate program check the website to find out where you can take the certification test.
  • For the Certified Archivist test you can take it at the annual SAA conferences and other locations. There are also study groups. Reach out to current CA’s and ask them about there experiences. This goes for any programs that you are interested in, most people are happy to tell you their experience and to share tips they learned. You can also look at blogs, many professionals blog about their experiences taking a certification, workshops, classes, seminars etc…
  • A less costly option is taking and participating in online classes, webinars, workshops and seminars. LLAMA is an ALA based webinar site, ALCTS again through ALA is a resource for classes and Continuing Education from SAA offers Continuing Professional Education for workshops and seminars. Most workshops and seminars are in person. Make sure you look into this before you sign up. Classes and webinars usually are online/virtual, but can be in person as well. Your local and regional professional association will also have workshops that you can take, as well as attending professional conferences you will have opportunities for workshops and seminars.

    Some tips are to make sure you know if the Professional Development you chose is in person or online. Check the cost, financial aid and grants or scholarships. For many of the workshops and classes if you are a member of the Professional Organization the cost is usually lower. Get all the cost info, make sure you know if there are books that are required or recommended and if there are workshops or seminars you need to take part in.. All of this information and more should be listed on the website for the organization that the program is offered through. If you know of other sources please leave them in the comments.