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As you settle into your career, it is normal to want to advance. Whether you are thinking strictly about income or like the idea of new responsibilities and challenges, few people want to continue to do the same thing day in and day out. You can wait for a promotion or a new job opportunity to come up, but being proactive is the most effective way to build a career that provides satisfaction. Your first few years on the job were probably spent learning the basics and becoming comfortable with your responsibilities. To continue to advance, you will need to expand both the breadth and the depth of your knowledge. There are a variety of ways to do so. It is important to take your life situation into consideration when thinking of your career. There is no one right answer for everyone, the best decision for you depends on your interests, your life outside of work, and your existing knowledge base.
If you became employed in your field without a degree, or if the industry you work in is filled with people who have graduate degrees, you may want to consider formal education. Whether it is to earn an undergraduate or graduate degree, formal education can have many benefits to your career. Unfortunately, even if you are well-loved at your job, many promotions will not be open to you if you do not have the requested level of education. In addition, continuing your education puts you on your supervisor’s radar as someone who is comfortable pushing themselves. Taking out student loans removes the stress of attempting to pay for school while also working full-time. It can be challenging to balance your academic work with your employment, adding unneeded stress to the equation can be a recipe for disaster.
The idea of networking makes many people cringe, but it is one of those things you must get comfortable doing. Networking with others in your industry allows you to build connections that are beneficial in both the short and long term. Networking can be a great way to stay up to date on the latest news and developments facing your industry. Your network is also valuable when you are ready to search for a new job.
Conferences and opportunities for continuing education are a way to combine education and networking. Attending a conference gives you time to immerse yourself on what is going on in your industry. It is easy to miss the latest trends when you are focusing on your day to day work. Attending a conference once or twice a year gives you the opportunity to sit back and listen. You can hear about developments, trends, and ideas that have yet to make it to market, and that may never progress that far. Learning the direction your industry is moving allows you to keep your skills razor sharp. Conferences are also a great networking opportunity. You will meet people from all across the country, or even the world, who share common interests and skills. You will learn different ways of thinking and doing things, which is never wasted time.