Let's face it; I rarely get to hear how wonderful continuing education is. I don't take it personally and I don't think anyone else at Design Arts Seminars does either. For the most part, it simply has nothing to do with the quality of the continuing education opportunities available. There are many quality programs available out there to fit any schedule and any budget (okay, there are also some very bad ones but you know what they are so they can easily be avoided). For one thing, I like to think that we offer quality continuing education programs in a variety of delivery formats for a reasonable fee. I am biased on that one but the evaluations our attendees turn in seem to prove me right but that's not the point. So what is the issue with continuing education? Why is it perceived as a costly, time-consuming inconvenience rather than as the opportunity it really is?
Why don't more people think like Al Stevens: "You need to start looking at continuing education as an investment into yourself. It is interesting that people completely understand the importance of changing oil in the car in order to keep the car running at peak performance. No one in their right mind would find it acceptable to go 10 years without an oil change and expect their vehicle to perform at peak levels. Why would you expect your place of employment to be any different?"
Maybe it is the fact that it is "mandatory" for most licensed design professionals and even for those holding a professional membership. Maybe it is because of the cost (in both time and/or money) associated with it. Whatever your reason for dreading continuing education, it is time to rethink it and here is why:
- You stay abreast of the latest developments in your industry by learning from professionals in their area of expertise.
- You stay ahead of the curve or at least, stay in the race.
- You get an opportunity to network with your peers.
- You use it as a source of inspiration for your next project, your next story or - why not - your next blog post!
- You remain marketable. Don't just take continuing education credits because you have to. List completed courses on your résumé and on your website for your clients to see.