Control your career through professional development

Professional development is an ongoing process that will help you control your own career and benefit your employer.

Even if you’ve attained your college degree, professional development is crucial in staying current and equitable within your field. With the culture of the job market ever changing, workers are more likely to change careers multiple times throughout their professional lives. Therefore, continuous professional development is more important than ever.

This is not only crucial for your current employer, but for future career opportunities as well. According to the article “Job hopping is the new normal for millennials: Three ways to prevent a human resource nightmare” as posted on, though estimates vary, it is safe to say that workers will may have between 5 and 15 different jobs throughout their professional lives, with over 90 percent of millennials claiming that they expect to stay in a job for less than 3 years.

Using this logic, millennials (born between 1977 and 1997) starting their careers at age 22 and retiring at age 67, will realize a 45-year professional career.

Let’s put this into a mathematical equation to illustrate:

               45 (years in career) / 3 (years per job) = 15 jobs over course of career

Often times, career advancement is directly associated to accomplishing certain certifications or professional accreditations. Some employers place a higher priority on it than others, however in order to maintain your competitive advantage, you should deem this a high priority for your own career development.

Even if your current employer does not support your career development, it is crucial that you make the investment in yourself. Ultimately, this investment can be used as a negotiating tool for advancement or salary increases. Also, if your employer stifles your career growth, you can make your own determination as to whether continued employment with that employer is in your best interest.

At the end of the day, you are in control of your own destiny. Continued education and professional development should be a high priority, especially if you intend to advance throughout your career.

Great places to search for such opportunities may be industry specific associations or your local community colleges. Often times, certificate programs will fulfill this criteria, make you more equitable and provide you with current skills that you often can implement on your first day back in the office. Making professional development is not simply a luxury, but ultimately a necessity.

Michigan State University Extension offers a variety of programs to provide expertise, education, and development of communities throughout the state of Michigan. 

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