Many companies show that they value their employees by gifting them an allotment to spend in a variety of ways for their personal development and growth. If you are fortunate enough to work for a company that offers funding for your professional development and growth, it’s your job to ensure you take advantage of it.
It’s time to start planning on how you want to spend your 2024 Professional Development stipend so that you have enough time to submit your request and get your program approved by your manager or HR.
Here are some great ways to put your free money to work, for you!
Conferences, Trade Shows & Retreats
Throughout the year, industry-specific conferences, trade shows, and expos take place worldwide, providing opportunities for professionals to network, learn, and exchange ideas. Attending these events is an excellent means of expanding your professional network, staying informed about new technologies and industry trends, and connecting with like-minded individuals. Additionally, health and wellness retreats can significantly enhance an employee’s mental health and well-being. Keep in mind that many of these activities involve travel, so consider factors such as flight and hotel costs, as well as time off from work, in addition to the admission fees.
Here is a list of a variety of conferences across various industries in 2024, alongside notable professional development wellness retreats.
Coaching and Mentoring
The best money spent on personal development is with 1:1 coaching. Find a coach who aligns with your needs, crafting a personalized coaching plan tailored to your focus areas and goals. If your company provides a coaching opportunity, take it. You’ll appreciate the external perspective, boosted confidence, and improved communication skills that come with having a mentor outside your organization.
Humessence is an excellent resource for 1:1 coaching opportunities. They also offer free consultations to meet your potential coach and discuss your personal goals.
Is it your goal this year to improve your public speaking skills? Toastmasters International is the place for you! This international public speaking organization has been around for over 100 years, and there are in-person and online meetings being held everywhere, weekly and monthly, depending on how much time you are willing to invest. The membership dues are very affordable, and once you are a member, there are a ton of resources to take advantage of, not to mention great camaraderie and networking opportunities.
If you want to continue growing your skills in your field, a certification may be something to help you get there. Obtaining certifications shows that you take your career seriously and value continuing education. Certifications look great on your resume, and they can lead to better opportunities for advancement and higher salaries. Certifications will set you apart from others in your field. Some certifications can be obtained through online courses in as little as a few months, and just a handful of hours. Here is some more info on the different types and benefits of certifications.
LinkedIn Premium Subscription
Something as simple as gaining access to a higher level of networking opportunities can up your game in your role. LinkedIn is a powerful tool for many positions, so take advantage of the opportunities it can bring you. Here is a comparison as to what you get with a premium subscription vs. a standard one.
Productivity Tools and Software
It is a luxury to have top-of-the-line tools that help make your job easier and keep you and your team organized. Why not have your company invest in these productivity tools to make you a better and more productive employee? Tools such as Forest, Evernote, Todoist, and Conjure will even help you better manage your work-life balance, a total win-win for you and your company.
Classes or Training
Is there something that may help you in your day-to-day role that requires a little extra time and attention? Perhaps it’s learning a new skill, program, or app. I took a course in Excell, and it changed my life both professionally and personally. If you are in a field that deals with people and communication, an improv class or meditation course may benefit you at work. Find something that interests you, and you will find a way to connect the dots to how it will improve your professional life.
Professional Association Memberships
SHRM is a perfect example of a membership that has its privileges. Find the groups and organizations that, as a member, will offer you connections, training, and networking opportunities. Some memberships are one-time fees, and others dues are based on how much you earn. There are hundreds of Association memberships to choose from, and you will certainly find one that is right for you!
Books, Subscriptions, Masterclasses
This is one of my favorite uses as we rarely spend the extra money on materials that will last us a lifetime. Reading materials and online tutorials are the gifts that keep on giving. Investing in content that will serve as a reusable resource will allow you to share with others, and grow a library of knowledge for you to refer to and continue to enjoy. Website subscriptions, journals, and other reading materials are often pricey, for those of you who love to learn, but it’s a great way to treat yourself and use your stipend to feed your passion for content.
For those of you whose work is in a digital space, upgrading your tools can also level up your game. Get a more recent version of the programs you use, get the latest and greatest tools for your art, upgrade your computer, make your office more efficient, get better lighting, or a more comfortable chair for your home office. You need it – ask for it!
Here are some great items to buy with your stipend that will make working more comfortable and efficient.
If your company does not have a professional development stipend, you should ask about implementing one. You never get what you don’t ask for! Nothing to lose.