How do you know that you are a professional?

professional development
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Many people are employees, but not all of them are professionals. So, how do you know, if you are one? This article describes the experience of my pathway and my personal thoughts on the professional developement. Maybe you’ve observed the same?

The metamorphosis of becoming a graceful butterfly out of an inconspicuous caterpillar often (but not necessary) comes together with a change in your employment situation. Let’s say, instead of hoping from one opportunity to another you decide to consciously choose a future job. Or you are offered a job after your internship and you don’t know if you should stay in this company. Or you hate your job and just wanna escape. In all these cases it starts with the painful question — “What kind of job/position/role do I actually want?”. Being professional begins way before the final answer is there. It starts at the point when you deal with the question itself. That is, when your professional ego is being designed.

When you work as a student assistent or do your internship, there is an underlying understanding that you are here to learn and the company is there to support you in it. Sure, you still have to do your best, but the expectations are rather “we teach you first, you perform later”. Once you have a postion as a full-fledged employee, you are supposed to deliver as soon as possible. Of course you should keep learning, too, but this is rather seen as your responsibility. There is no supervisor, no mentor, no dedicated teacher. This realizaton might be scary at first, but it is a necessary step towards becoming a professional.

The reason why you no longer enjoy the newbie protection is simply because you are no longer one! You’ve gathered some first experiences and got some basic skills, so now you can develop them further. I’ve had 4 jobs by now, but only in my current position I finally do not start from scratch in a completely new field but continue where I stopped at the previous one. I eventually feel that I have the basics to advance in what I’m doing.

Suddently you realize that you have a different status and a different (more mature) standing. It might start with more obligations and additional perks that you get as an employee (like a corporate phone), or with the way you handle unpredicted or stressful situations. You learn to respond flexibly to challenges and not to get overwhelmed by little things. The number of workshop participants has doubled? No problem, just improvise accordingly. Need to prepare an internal presentation? Ok, this is just a presentation, no big deal.

Suddenly you realize, that you can define yourself not only as a loving sister, a caring partner or a fond friend, but also as a teacher, frontend developer, designer etc. Even if you cannot describe this “thing” in one word, you know, what is your current scope, interests and topics that belong to the area of your capabilities. You value what you are doing, you value the role of your job in the society. Not only you’ve decided it for yourself, but you are also ready to communicate it externally and stand up for it.

Once you dare to name yourself professional in front of other people, you tend to reach out to the like-minded. You initiate exchange of thoughts and ideas, provide input and search for insights. With this standing, you are ready to share your knowledge with others. You perceive yourself as a member of a huge professional guild.

Since you can no longer escape the responsibility by saying that you are still learning (point №2) and you have the relevant skills to achieve your goals (point №3), you realize that you have the ambition to do so. Since the professional aspect of your life has become part of your personality (point №5), this ambition is highly personal — you wanna manage it, you wanna take the challenge, you wanna make the difference! This is the driving force of your motivation.

If you are determined to achieve your professional goals, you will have a to-do list in your head or notebook. It is not about all the annoying little things that you have to do in the office. I rather mean the topics and plans that belong to the scope of your profession (the way you defined it for yourself). Read a particular book, attend a conference, write an article — you name it. Professional developement is part of your development as a personality. And you (not your manager or the company) have a plan for it.

To me, being a professional sounds (and feels) awesome! It brings a lot of positive energy and boosts your inner drive — just imagine a kid in a candy shop. What comes next? Will see..

light bulb, ideas, inspiration, motivation

[Disclaimer: you think the author misses the point or provides incorrect information? Blame the author AND provide missing / relevant / correct information in your comments — help other readers (and the author) to get it straight! a.k.a. #learningbysharing]

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Learning tech hacks by sharing them with you— that is what drives me. #learningbysharing

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Maria Korneeva

Learning tech hacks by sharing them with you— that is what drives me. #learningbysharing