Career Employment Strategies

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Why You Should Always Ask

I had an e-mail from Karon of Wollongong, Australia who finally plucked up the courage to ask her employer for some outside professional development training to be attended in working hours. Here is what she had to say.

Encouraged by your newsletter I thought I would check if my company was willing to pay for training in company time so that I could advance my career within the company.

I enjoy my job and I know they value my expertise, but they had never thought of staff development and although surprised by my request, and my sales pitch as to how it can benefit them, they said yes. That was the beginning of a nightmare. I knew I wanted to do Project Management, but had no idea how to look for an accredited course, if possible.

I tried the Universities and TAFE colleges. None offered courses specifically dealing with Project Management, so I turned to the Internet. It soon became apparent that you needed to belong to an Industry Association or Professional Organization to find relevant training in business hours.

One Industry Training company was prepared to take me if they could not fill places with members. It was also costly - $6,000 just for a two day course! There was a possibility of a Project Management course starting the following month, but I wouldn't expect my company to pay for what I thought was an outrageous cost.

I turned to a friend, Margo, because I couldn't take up any more time looking around. She got back to me and said. " I have Googled and Yahooed, and I could only come up with Distance Learning." This sounded ok because I could take time off work to complete my assignments, which was an alternative option. She said she wanted to know what I thought about it before she went any further. "Sounds ok, but how do you know if the company is credible" I asked? " I don't know, I will have to find out," she stated officiously.

I didn't hear from her for about 2 weeks and I was really busy during this period. Ironically I was in the middle of managing a project that was outside my division and area of expertise, and I felt very much out of my depth, but still coping.

The Project Manager, who had implemented and started the project, was very qualified and experienced. I was told, with a grin, that he had caught the mumps. My boss thought I could step in and handle it because of my interest in Project Management, and it was a good career opportunity for me.

I was beginning to think the whole idea was a disaster. I couldn't even find a course on Project Management and here I was being thrown into the deep end.

Then Margot got back to me and said that only one Distance Learning Programmes had the course I wanted but they were only offered once a year and it the next one was booked out. Now that distance learning held no further options, my friend tenaciously pursued the task she was given and eventually found a course. She rang back and said she had found one appropriate course and asked me if I wanted a holiday. She just said wait for the brochure, it is in the mail.

The brochure showed the 5 day course was being held on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia. I thought the price was reasonable, compared to what I had seen locally, and it was off season so the accommodation and meals package was quite reasonable, but still $5,000 I sighed, and put it back in my in box.

My manager, who rarely ventures into my work area, passed by and saw it. "Oh you have found a course have you?" he asked. "Yeah right, I could do with the holiday" I said. I nearly fell on the floor when he said, "let me take it away and I will make some enquiries."

He came back in the afternoon and had spoken to people within the industry and he was told the training was excellent and coincidently was highly credible within our own industry. "You can't miss this," he said. "book yourself in." My mind was racing – kids - husband - meals, and who would drive the kids to school etc. I rang my husband and he said "great, don't worry darling, we will work it out."

The biggest hurdle in this professional development idea is finding an appropriate course at the right price. Margot said she came up with some interesting courses from Distance Learning packages. They are worth having a look at.

The moral of this story is, if you want to something, always ask.

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