15 Professional Development Resolutions

With the turn of every new year, we seize the opportunity to turn over a new leaf and work on a healthier, kinder, more awesome version of ourselves. We make resolutions, set new goals, join a gym, organize our closets, sign up to volunteer and look for ways to stay accountable.

This year, think about setting some professional development goals  — and becoming a member/renewing with YNPN Des Moines. We’re probably not as ripped as your new personal trainer, but we can help keep you on track for success.


15 Professional Development Resolutions for 2015 (and ideas for achieving them!)

Get published. Challenge yourself to write something worth reading. Maybe your organization has a newsletter or blog, or your development team is in need of some testimonials for a campaign? We’re always on the hunt for guest bloggers. Just e-mail [email protected]ynpndesmoines.org with your post.

Supervise an intern. Looking to gain managerial experience? Explore opportunities to bring on an intern at your organization, or supervise a short-term service learning project.  Bobbi Meyer from the Simpson College Career Center offered her tips on our blog.

Take someone whose work you admire out to coffee. One of the coolest things about living in Des Moines is how accessible our leaders are. Think about who you admire and take the bold step of inviting them to coffee. It’s not about asking them to become your mentor, but asking smart questions that can help you weight your next career step. Intimidated by a one-on-one? Come to one of the YNPN monthly Thursday morning coffee discussion meetups! They’ll start up again in February.

Read about new developments in the social sector. We’re geeks for the Stanford Social Innovation Review and Chronicle of Philanthropy. Bookmark the sites and aim to read a new article each week!

Design a poster/flyer that wouldn’t make a designer gag. Bad design won’t help your cause. Maybe you don’t have fancy software, but these resources should help! Tips to go from design ‘freak’ to ‘geek’ Infographics 101

Pitch in to plan an event. Odds are, you didn’t take an event planning course as part of your college curriculum. (If you did, we’re totally jealous!) But in nonprofits, events are a huge part of your world. Stacie put together a great series for us, includingthis fundraising event planning timeline/checklist. No room to plan events for your organization? Our committees are always looking for help!

Attend a conference. Conferences are an awesome way to learn about new skills/developments in the field and meet people from your sector who might be connected to your work. Shameless plug: YNPN NON-CON is coming up on January 8, 2015! Register today. (It’s FREE for paid members.)

Eat lunch with a different co-worker each month. Don’t wait for a staff retreat to get to know your team. Whether your office is small or large, grab a bite in the breakroom or go out to eat with a co-worker you don’t know as well and maybe start to build a new bond. (We love La Mie or Trellis at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden for a tasty power lunch. Tell us your favorite spots in the comments!)

Follow up. Did you have a meeting with someone who offered good advice? Interview for a new job? Apply to grad school? Consider sending a handwritten note of thanks. Keep a stack and stamps in your drawer or bag to help make this a habit. You’ll certainly make an impression.

Develop a tagline. Come up with a short way of introducing yourself that doesn’t just rely on your job title. According to our “Afraid to Ask” event with Mary Bontrager, it’s a step toward building your personal brand. And if you’re between jobs or in a position you don’t love, it steers the conversation toward what you feel are your strengths.

Beef up your LinkedIn presence. Even if you aren’t looking for a new job, an active profile can be a career catalyst. Ditch the selfie for your profile pic (YNPN Des Moines occasionally hosts an event to get a professional headshot), add in your skills and join our YNPN Des Moines group to get your questions answered. (Fun fact: Our founding co-chair got headhunted through the project management skills on his profile! Check out Danny’s project management tips here.)

Subscribe to an e-newsletter. Sometimes it’s hard to seek out tips, tricks and inspiration when you’ve got a huge to-do list. Want to learn more about social media trends. You better bet there’s an e-newsletter for that! (Chris Snider, a professor at Drake has a good one.) DSM and the Business Record also publish e-newsletters with good local business and nonprofit content. YNPN National has an e-newsletter, too!

Go to another organization’s fund or friend-raiser event. Looking for an excuse to get dressed up and enjoy a glass of wine? Celebrate for a cause other than your own. It’s fun with a side of professional development, when you scope out the vendors, auction items, etc. These days, so many local events have a YP rate. Save up and check the Gatsby Gala, Farmstasia, Zoobilation or some other fabulous event off your bucket list.

Ask for help. In the nonprofit world, we rely lots on on-the-job training. Sometimes you’ve gotta fake-it-till-you-make-it, or pretend you’re a multitasking octopus who can get it all done in a day. (We all have the same 24 hours as Beyonce, right? Wrong. She has a staff!) Come to one of the YNPN Des Moines ‘Afraid to Ask’ sessions and get help in a certain area, or ask your boss to send you to a workshop, or whatever you need to not become burnt out and discouraged. Got it all covered? Offer to help someone else on your staff with a project if you see s/he is overwhelmed.

Write a grant or make an ask. Maybe you have a grantwriting team (lucky duck!) but if this isn’t part of your day-to-day work, see if you can build skills in fund development. The Charitable Giving Resource Center holds a Fundraising University in the fall, and the Drake University Center for Professional Studies (a YNPN Des Moines Sponsor!) hosts a workshop this coming May.

 Do you have other professional development goals for 2015? We want to hear them! Don’t forget to renew your membership or join YNPN Des Moines today

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