How We Invest in Ourselves
In the last newsletter, I asked you all how you invest in yourself – build new skills, competencies, knowledge and expertise that can help you in your current and next role.
Wow! You responded to that question with a plethora of examples. I’ve condensed multiple people’s feedback into themes below.
Regardless of which approach you choose, habitually investing in yourself is the only way to strengthen your career resilience over time.
Invest in Conference & Event Networking
I scrimped and saved to self-fund work conferences and events on my vacation time for 4 years that led to contacts who hired me for my current job, which has a conference travel allowance because my employer knows how valuable it is for our work.
Bonus: I get free conference attendance now in exchange for helping facilitate sessions since conference organizers also know how good I am in conferences.
Invest in Formal Education
I invest in myself through formal online education such as TechChange classes and technical courses at major Universities. I am contemplating a Master’s Degree in International Development to compliment my technical knowledge and give me a more well-rounded educational profile.
I’ve found that I need a Master’s Degree to move past mid-level program manger roles into more senior management or even senior technical advisor roles.
Invest in Informal Learning
I was glad to see Wayan included “time” in investment activities. I spend time on things like podcasts, informational interviews, and following people I admire on social media (especially people who post about what they’re reading). This has been more useful than paid courses I’ve taken.
I invest in maintaining my foreign language skills through speaking clubs, audio books, Internet radio, and volunteering with organizations like Translators without Borders.
Invest in Paying Off Debt
First on my self-investment list is retroactive investment in the form of paying off my student loans for undergraduate and graduate degrees.
My spouse and I will be in debt for many years to come, and I feel frustrated that others have the time and money to invest in current and future skills when we are paying for degrees that just got us entry-level jobs. I get the sense that development is only for those already privileged.
Invest in In-Country Experience
I kept hearing that I needed “in-country experience” to get an entry-level job, but I wasn’t willing to dig wells for two years in the Peace Corps, so I invested in a 6-month internship with a local NGO.
The experience itself was awesome and eye-opening, and it got me interviews with a major iNGO and a job offer the day my internship ended.
Invest in a Start Up
I used a small raise, freelancing gigs, and vacation time to help bootstrap a startup. It was very hard at first, but the startup is now supporting everyone involved, we all genuinely enjoy what we’re doing.
I started a side gig with a friend of mine, and while the money isn’t the same as my day job, it is 30% of my family’s income, and a life-saver when I was laid off recently. I still had money coming in and a professional accomplishments to cite while I looked for a new job.
Thanks for reading this far,