February 29th, 2012
Hi, I’m Sandy Donovan and I was invited to guest blog on ACET Inc.’s blog this week. I’ve worked with ACET for more than a decade on various evaluation projects. I’ve also worked in the areas of workforce development and career planning for nearly that long, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to write about an important workforce topic: ongoing professional development.
I’m guessing this may be an area that many readers have often told themselves they would begin to prioritize—just as soon as things get less hectic at work. After all, keeping up with one’s day-to-day work tasks can feel like two full-time jobs. It often seems like there aren’t enough hours in the day to work on projects, meet deadlines, head off crises, attend meetings, and reply to emails. . .the list can be endless.
In fact, everything we do at work builds our skills and bolsters our experience. But people with the highest career satisfaction consistently report that they also make an effort to keep one eye on the big picture of their career. This is true whether they already have a career they’re passionate about, or they’re just setting out on a path toward that career.
Why You Should. Dedicating just a few minutes, hours, days—whatever you have available—to your professional development will pay off in multiple ways. Here are just a few benefits of staying on top of your professional development:
- Be more informed about trends and issues in your field. Being aware of what’s happening in your field can keep you engaged and help grow your career.
- Gain new skills and advance in your career. Keeping your skills fresh is more important than ever as technology rapidly evolves.
- Remain passionate about the work you do. If you’re like many of ACET’s clients, chances are your career choice was driven by passion or a desire to make change. Keeping that passion alive will keep you inspired, help you to do better work, and in the end, increase your impact.
How You Can. Most of us agree we’d like to invest in professional development–but we’re not sure where to start, or if we even have the time. Here are a few simple ways to get started:
- Join a professional association. Once you join, you can determine just how involved you want to be. Find an organization in your field in this list of Professional and Trade Associations collected by the U.S. Department of Labor.
- Take a class. Some employers will help you pay for classes, some won’t. You’ll find that anything from taking a community education course to a starting a degree program can boost your career.
- Go online. Social media tools can make professional networking easier than ever. Try finding a LinkedIn group in your field or following colleagues on Twitter.
February 22nd, 2012
You may be familiar with policy memos, those one-to-two page documents often delivered by policy analysts to inform decision makers. Policy memos are a remarkably useful tool for all sorts of information exchange. In many ways they are similar to executive summaries. Both policy memos and executive summaries:
- Effectively communicate key messages in a succinct manner;
- Present evidence from both sides of a debate (pros and cons or strengths and weaknesses); and
- Synthesize much information into one easy to use document.
But there’s one key distinction between executive summaries and policy memos: Policy memos contain a call to action of some sort. Often, this takes the form of a recommendation to follow one course of action over another. Or, it may be a simple set of action steps.
At ACET we often use policy-type memos to communicate with clients, highlighting key findings, strengths, challenges, and next steps. You might want to consider whether this document style could be a similar useful tool in your organization.
February 15th, 2012
Elmer’s Products, Inc. – the company that brings you Elmer’s Glue – is collaborating with the Kids in Need Foundation to provide grants to teachers for classroom projects. Elmer’s and Kids in Need anticipate providing approximately 250 grants to teachers to complete projects in the arts, language, history, math, social studies, science, and other areas (e.g., health and wellness, community service). Although first year teachers may receive special consideration, all K-12 teachers are encouraged to apply. Teachers must select one of the 500 projects included on the Tool Kit Grant website to implement in their classroom. Grants will range in size from $100 to $500 and must be completed by the end of the 2011-2012 school year. Awarding of the grants will be based on financial need, how the selected project meets the educational needs of the students and satisfies state standards, and the number of students who will benefit from participation.
To learn more about the Elmer’s & Kids in Need Foundation Teacher Tool Kit Grants, please visit their website at: http://www.kinf.org/elmers /index.php.
If you know of any other grants for teachers, please share them in the comments. Good luck!
February 10th, 2012
Do you know someone who volunteers tirelessly to promote a better tomorrow? How about someone who volunteers and goes above and beyond what is expected of them? If you know of someone in which either of the previous is true, consider nominating them for a Community TechKnowledge (CTK) Cash Thank You Grant. CTK is a nonprofit that provides other nonprofits with software to manage staff and volunteers, track donors, and manage data for reporting. CTK recently announced they will recognize the efforts and contributions of unpaid volunteers of registered nonprofits or charities through the Cash Thank You Grants program. CTK will award five cash grants totaling $17, 500.
- Three $5,000 grants will be awarded to nonprofit heroes in Animal Rights and Environmental Protection, Health & Human Services, and Arts & Literacy. The winners will participate in a video public service announcement-produced by a professional-about their nonprofit.
- One $1,000 grant will be awarded to a volunteer and will be selected by the blogger who best promotes the “Heroes with a Heart” campaign.
- And one $1,500 grant will be provided for a volunteer who best provides creative and innovative approaches to HIV/AIDS education or prevention.
Submissions are being accepted from Feb 1– Feb 29. When nominating, you will be asked to provide a 250 word description on why your nominee is an exceptional hero. A judging panel will select a group of finalists and the public will have the opportunity to vote on their favorites through CTK’s Facebook page. Voting will take place between March 15 and April 15. To nominate a hero, or to learn more about the “Heroes with a Heart” campaign, please visit: http://www.facebook.com/CommunityTechKnowledge?sk=app_264413976964065.
February 3rd, 2012
This past Monday, I was invited to participate in a program advisory committee meeting for the Master of Science in Applied Psychology program at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. This committee is made up of current students, professors, and professionals working in evaluation who provide feedback on the program’s goals and future. This meeting was not only important for the program, but also for the field of evaluation. The advisory group’s input was needed for a variety of topics, such as: the current program status, internship requirements, alignment with other similar programs, new applicants, etc. As the Master of Science in Applied Psychology program prepares future evaluators, alignment to future workforce needs and skillsets is key to program success and why input was sought from multiple perspectives. I greatly appreciated being asked to serve as a committee member and having the option provide program input.
To learn more about the Master of Science in Applied Psychology program at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, please visit: http://www.uwstout.edu/programs/msap/.