Career Skills Development: Invest in Yourself
By Jeanne Sokolak, Account Manager, RR Donnelley, VP of Industry Relations, IASA

At the recent IASA Educational Conference and Business Show held in Las Vegas last month, over 700 attendees chose to “invest in themselves” by participating in one of 13 Career Skills Development sessions at the conference.  Were you one of those smart investors?

Over the course of the last 10 years or so, the IASA introduced and recently expanded the Career Skills Development Educational track at the national conference.  

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Why the steady interest and growth in this area?  Smart companies realize that besides good technical training in their field, successful employees also need other “career” skills to be truly effective.  And smart employees realize that to climb that corporate ladder, they need to master career skills beyond an IT, accounting or finance focus.

The Career Skills Development team developed two distinct tracks for the 2015 educational conference.  The first track focused on traditional career skills sessions; sessions that can benefit all types of employees at all levels.  The second track was the new CSD Leadership track with leadership-focused sessions.

What were some of the traditional CSD highlights this year?  Certainly, Margaret Resce Milkint’s Sunday afternoon networking session was a great way to kick-off the conference.  The interactive “Speed Networking:  the Art of Making Connections” forced some of us out of our comfort zones and made us jump right in to conference networking.  Networking is always a popular CSD theme and Darin Reffit’s Tuesday morning session also focused on networking with “Breaking the Ice:  Practical Strategies for Networking Success.” Can you identify an open group as opposed to a closed group during a cocktail reception?  And what should you do if there are only closed groups when you arrive? Why-- head to the bar, of course!

Another very practical CSD session this year was ”Making Meetings Count,” a panel discussion developed and led by Cindy Boyle. Before you schedule your next phone conference, check out this hilarious (but far too true) video that Cindy used to begin her session.  

Are you new to a leadership position? Or maybe you are a seasoned leader who wants to learn how to better lead Millennials?  (Note: Millennials are loosely defined as people born between the mid-80’s and mid-2000’s).   The new Leadership track in Career Skills Development had 6 sessions geared toward various leadership levels—from brand-new to experienced.  

CSD Leadership track highlights included professional speaker, Ryan Jenkins and his presentation “Leading in the Digital Age.”   Jenkins, internationally published author, Millennial speaker and blogger, shared that by 2025, 75% of the workforce will be Millennials compared to their current 39% of the 2015 workforce. That is a huge number!  Also, according to Jenkins, 27% of Millennials define career success as “High Pay” compared to 48% of non-Millennials who manage Millennials.  This group has very different motivators that we need to acknowledge.

Other than Juliet Funt’s Career Skills Super Session on “Whitespace,” the CSD Session that attracted the most attendees with a standing room-only crowd of over 100, was Cathy Ellwood’s “How to Become More Strategic and Innovative.”  This entertaining and information-packed session shared practical lessons teaching how you can become more strategic and innovative in your current role. Ellwood kept the audience engaged with interesting data on emerging technologies in the insurance industry. Did you know that KP&G predicts 75% of the world’s vehicles will be self-driving within the next 25 years? 

Over the course of the next year you may see variations of these Career Skills sessions presented at various local chapter meetings—or maybe re-designed as one of the exciting, new e-Learning webinars.  Sign-up and plan to attend! Raise your hand and share your thoughts and experiences!  And remember that Investing in Yourself is always a smart investment.

Pictured: Jeanne Sokolak