In most professions, the learning doesn’t stop when you graduate. Having a career in social media, marketing or communications is no exception. However, the amazing thing about education in our world right now is that there are so many options to choose from, both in-person and online. The possibilities are endless – I could spend all my time learning! With so many options available, how can you narrow down the choices for your professional development while balancing work and home life?
Set a goal and have milestones along the way. Is your goal to earn a new degree or credential? Maybe you’re a certified social media strategist through NISM needing to complete your 20 hours of CEU’s to maintain your certification. Whatever your reason, here are some tips for sifting through all the options:
- Make sure it’s helping you grow. It’s easy to choose a topic because it’s something you enjoy or are familiar with, but if you already know (or mostly know) the content, what’s the point of doing the work? Don’t be afraid to spread your wings – look for an area you may not know well. It can be refreshing to approach learning with a beginner’s mindset. Own your unfamiliarity with the topic.
- Each person has a unique learning style. Are you someone who works well through self-paced materials and stays on track? Or is participating in a webinar a better way for you to stay engaged? Maybe you’re considering attending a conference? Make sure you’re choosing a format that is a good fit – that way you are actively participating and getting the most out of your course.
- Plan ahead! Identify courses or webinars that you want to take in advance and schedule them on your calendar. This is especially important if you have a deadline for completing CEUs to maintain a certification. As a certified social media strategist, you don’t want to get to the end of your two years and have to rush to complete your 20 hours of required CEU’s.
- Cost. If you’re viewing CEUs as little more than a box you must check in order to maintain a certification, you’re probably choosing primarily on cost. Don’t discount the value of paid options, otherwise you may miss out on some beneficial opportunities to update your knowledge. Be careful of workshops that are selling something. More than likely they’re less education and they are a sales pitch for a product that you may or may not ever use.
TIP: NISM offers a wide variety of educational opportunities each month for both certified SMS and those who are just looking to keep their skills up-to-date. The best part? If you attend live, all NISM’s webinars are free of charge.
Whether you’re maintaining a professional credential, keeping up with trends or sharpening your skillset, the biggest benefit of continuing education is that it reminds you that learning isn’t a means to an end – it is a lifelong pursuit. Don’t be afraid to invest in yourself – it’s the best ROI you can make.
Author: Amanda Andresen
Amanda Andresen is the Digital Communication and Engagement Coordinator for the University of Nebraska Kearney. As an NISM certified social media strategist, she’s extremely passionate about sharing her knowledge of all things social media.
Amanda holds a B.S. in Computer Information Systems in Business from Bellevue University and a graduate certificate in Public Relations and Social Media from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
When she’s not busy “being social”, her hobbies include running after her one year old, traveling and cheering on the Indianapolis Colts.
Connect with Amanda online!