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Insights from practitioners in Information Management

Issue 6 – Continuing professional development – CPD

Do you have the time to spend on further education and continuing professional development? Do you have the time not to? A friend once said that it wasn’t the actual cost of the book that mattered, it was the cost of not reading the book that was more important.  As professionals it never ceases to amaze us just how much we don’t know, and the more we read on a particular subject the more questions we have.  How many questions do you have?

As you start your day “Take time to think…it is the source of power.  Take time to play…it is the secret of perpetual youth.  Take time to read…it is the fountain of wisdom. Take time to love and be loved…it is a god given privilege.  Take time to be friendly…it is the road to happiness.  Take time to laugh…it is the music of the soul.  Take time to give…it is too short a day to be selfish.  Take time to work…it is the price of success.” Anon

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In this issue…
We will be looking at :

• What does CPD actually mean?
• What about Mentoring?
• Courses & Training on offer
• Do you have to be a member?
• Listservs and E-mail Discussion Lists.
• A Thought to Ponder

What does CPD actually mean?
OK, we all know that it means Continuing Professional Development, so lets get down to the nuts and bolts.

The Oxford English Dictionary states that a profession is a “Vocation or calling, one that involves some branch of advanced learning or science.” 

Continuation of study is a vital component of every professional regardless of industry.  If you don’t keep up with what is happening you will find yourself being overtaken by those people who do.  Some people cannot understand why they miss out on promotions, but lets face it, it happens all the time.  But why does it happen and continue to happen in today’s world? 

There are a couple of very simple answers.  Perhaps the other person “shouted louder” than everyone else.  Is it because the other person took every single opportunity to promote themselves and their skills – giving value back to the organisation, giving value to colleagues (and no I am not talking about the ingratiating opportunist who delights in telling everyone how wonderful they are without doing anything).  Or did the person take each and every learning opportunity that was offered to them, or asked for? And then shared that extra knowledge with their fellow employees, the management, the company that allowed them either money or time (or in some cases both) to attend.  The answer is most probably YES to all the above.

Continuing Professional Development is not limited to outside study, networking or the odd breakfast meeting (although all of these are very valuable).  CPD also encompasses professional reading, the time taken to discuss matters with colleagues, and the sharing of valuable information.  However, there is another aspect of CPD that is perhaps overlooked, and that is additional on the job training.  By taking the time to work in other areas, improving your skill base, allowing your colleagues to improve theirs (you have to have an open mind to cross pollination of work ideas for this to be considered effective), can be one of the best ways of boosting morale within an organisation, whilst at the same time learning about new technologies, principles, standards and methods that you would not have had chance to learn before.  But before you announce that you are going to move “onwards and sideways” please make sure that the organisation that you work for supports this, and that you have the backing of all parties involved, because some people see job rotation as a slight on their ability to do the work rather than the opportunity that it actually is.

What about Mentoring?
What about mentoring? Mentoring is a great way of passing on information to people who are just starting out, or are looking to move into new areas.  Why re-invent the wheel if someone, somewhere has the experience you need, and is willing to share it.

Whilst books and journals are a fantastic way of learning, being able to speak to people who have been there and done that, and have several t-shirts to prove it, is one of the fastest ways to fast track your career.  As we develop, so we grow.  As our learning grows, so do our opportunities.  And bear in mind that it is a two way process.  Mentors should be open to learning opportunities just the same as mentorees.

You should also bear in mind that you will need more than one mentor throughout your professional life.  If you associate with people who are on the same level as you, you will stay the same, then it stands to reason that if you associate with people who are “higher” than you, then you will surely grow.

Courses and Training on Offer
For those of you who are looking at formal study and training courses in order to fill some of the gaps in your education, you might like to know that the Records Management Association of Australasia (RMAA) has a list of courses and training on offer throughout Australia.  Go to www.rmaa.com.au and click on the Professional Development Tab.

For those of you who are more interested in the library side of things, ALIA maintain a register of courses http://www.alia.org.au/education/courses.   They also have a section devoted to CPD as well as one on mentoring.

IEA also run a series of training courses.  As a training partner with ALIA, all current members of ALIA receive a 10% discount on all courses offered.  For those people who are registered with IEA but have not yet become a member of ALIA then you also receive the discount.  In addition to our Records Management series of courses (www.iea.com.au – click on the training tab) IEA also runs a series of professional development courses on topics such as CV Writing, How to Address Selection Criteria, and Interview Preparation.

Do you have to be a member?
Well to be perfectly honest, no you don’t have to be a “professional” member of an organisation to reap benefits from them., although there are many compelling reasons why you should be a member of your professional organisation.

Did you know that you can minimise your tax liability by paying your membership fees? Unfortunately you do have to pay the money out before you get it back – but you do get it back. And being a member of an organisation does allow you into functions at the lower rate.

Functions and events are a great way to find out who the movers and shakers are within an industry, and the problems and issues facing them.  People love to talk about their problems, so if you ask the right questions – who knows you may be able to offer them a way of solving it.

Membership also gives you an opportunity to receive the professional publication that is issued. 

Of course, if you rarely attend the functions, then paying the non-member cost price for the event isn’t too much of a hardship, especially as this is a deductible expense too, and if you know someone who is a member, you can ask to borrow a copy of the journal they send out, or visit your local library and ask them if they have a copy.

However, given that our discussion so far has been about being proactive, then perhaps it is time to bit the bullet and join. 

Listservs and E-mail Discussion Lists
One of the great ways of keeping up with what is happening in your industry is to join one of the many Listservs and E-mail discussion lists available.  Both the library and records management industry have numerous lists to join. Here are a few for you.

To join the RMAA list serv you will need to go to the RMAA web site www.rmaa.com.au, click on the industry links button and look for the link to the RMAA listserv (right hand side) or go directly: www.rmaa.com.au/links/listserv.html

The Australian Library & Information Association (ALIA) www.alia.org.au have a number of different listservs you can become a member of Go the groups section and see which of the many groups you would like to join.  But don’t just sit on the side lines, ask a question or two, join in the debates, ask yourself the question – what do I want to get out of being a member of this list serv, and then go for it.  Most members are only too pleased to answer questions about their industry.
 

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A Thought to Ponder
Opportunities multiply as they are seized
Sun Tzu
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