2020 was definitely a year to remember! As a newbie in an industry, there is always so much to learn, understand, unfold and adapt to. The recent shift toward an almost completely virtual existence has added an extra layer of difficulty into the process of starting a career.
So, how can you virtually demonstrate excellence in your new role as a learning and development (L&D) professional? Try applying the “CSNC rule”:
Firstly, have confidence in yourself and your abilities. When I first began my role as an instructional designer for a Fortune 500 company, I doubted what I brought to the table. I had a hard time understanding what I could offer the experienced, well-balanced, skillful team that I was now a part of.
Then, I realized what I have to offer: myself — my differing perspective; my knowledge of new strategies, methods and design; and my ability to adapt to new circumstances with ease. You have something similar to offer your team: you and all of the skills and knowledge that you acquire. Understand that you are a benefit to your team, because you are a unique, educated mind that they did not have before.
Take the time to practice using the technical tools that relate to L&D, and put in the effort to improve the different areas of your role. For me, as an instructional designer, this learning process meant learning new tricks in authoring tools. Whatever it may look like, put in the time and effort to perfect your craft!
The next step is application. Apply your learning; make sample work products using your new knowledge. Even better, use that knowledge to create a new process for your department. These practices will not only help your team but also showcase your skills and dedication. Where there is obvious dedication, there is recognition. Keep track of your work, and create an aesthetically pleasing forum to showcase it, such as a website or e-portfolio.
Networking is essential to any professional in any industry, and L&D is no exception. Typically, it is fairly easy to walk up to someone in an office and strike up a conversation or to approach a team member and propose a collaborative project. But what happens when the office becomes your living room and your new “office colleagues” are your spouse, toddler and Yorkshire terrier?
Take this time as a challenge to become involved in virtual employee engagement opportunities. Check out the virtual clubs and programs that your employer has to offer. Whether it’s a mentorship program, club or monthly virtual happy hour, join in as much as you can. Take advantage of every opportunity that you have to interact with colleagues, inside and outside of your department. Ask to set up introductory meetings with your colleagues. Reach out to unfamiliar individuals, engage in your virtual workplace and make meaningful connections.
Also, arrange frequent one-on-one check-ins with your manager. Stay in touch, and keep them in the loop on your progress, strengths and areas of concern. Help them to support you during this time by keeping them informed, and it will benefit your relationship and work-life balance.
Collaborating with your colleagues is vital in growing your knowledge of your company, your new job role and your team. Conversations are always fun, but take them to the next level by working on projects with different colleagues. Doing so gives you the opportunity to not only learn from others but also exemplify your abilities and gain valuable rapport with diverse employees within your company.
While it is important to progress in your role, it is also important to take care of yourself! Set up a daily work schedule, and try your best to stick to it. Overworking yourself should not be a professional goal; you want to love your job, not just tolerate it. (Plus, your employer wants the best version of you, which is healthy and happy!)