Developing your competence
Life-long learning is here to stay. Find out the best ways for your professional development.
Your competence makes you interesting
Your competence is what interests your present or future employers. Do not build your career on too narrow competence. Keep an eye on what happens in your field of technology to prepare in advance for changes.
Learn to live with uncertainty. It is very difficult to know for certain today what kind of competence will be useful five years from now.
Do not forget that in addition to your technical competence, other types of skills and knowledge are also important in the working life. Learn about the world, society and people – that will make a more well-rounded person. In the working life, successful completion of tasks often requires a multidisciplinary approach.
Examples of useful skills:
- sales & marketing
- communication skills
- interpersonal skills
- foreign languages
- teaching / training / coaching
- project management
- customer relationship management
- writing (project /research reports, articles)
- foreign cultures
Age is not an obstacle. You are never too old to start to learn. Learning can be hard work – at any age - because learning is not just doing, listening or reading. Learning requires thinking and processing what you have done or read. People like to process things in a different way. Someone reflects best alone. Another one else likes to have a lively group discussion. A third person gets a clearer picture and deeper understanding through writing or drawing mind maps.
Sharing experience and knowledge with your colleagues is an important way of learning. It is also often a requirement since many projects are complicated and multi-faceted – impossible for just one person to manage.
Some ways to develop your competence
Find how you can develop your competence to keep employers interested in you. Below there are some ways.
- On the job learning and training is an important way of developing competence.
- Participate in new projects / working groups in your workplace.
- Attend training courses / seminars / conferences in and outside your company.
- Pursue doctoral studies.
- Study for another complementary degree.
- Read and study on your own, use e-learning possibilities.
- Do web research on specific professional items.
- Write articles in magazines, scientific periodicals or on the web to make yourself known as a professional.
- Learn through networking and discussion groups inside and outside your company / organisation.
- Join expert groups of technical organisations.
- Reflect on what you have done and learned. That will deepen the knowledge and help you look at things from new angles. Share and communicate your knowledge and expertise in professional groups, engineering associations by giving lectures, coaching or training.
Write down your plans and commit to them.
Writing down your plans and thoughts is a helpful tool when you are making your professional development plans. Pace yourself! You can move forward even by taking small steps. Concrete plans make it easier to take the important first step.
Write your action plan. Utilise the possibilities for on-the-job-learning that your employer offers. If you want to participate in long training programs, make sure you make a realistic time schedule for your studies.
I want to develop my technical competence in the following ways by (MONTH/YEAR):
I want to develop my non-technical competence in the following ways by (MONTH/YEAR):
I want to develop my people skills and working skills in following ways by (MONTH/YEAR):