Asking to Attend Professional Development Events
As a former intern for Engage! Cleveland, I know a thing or two about the opportunities that can present themselves in the form of a professional development event. This year Engage! Cleveland’s Next Generation of Women is back to provide professional and personal advice for up-and-coming women in Cleveland, and I’m attending.
I know it can be daunting to think about asking for a “day-off” for a professional development opportunity. In fact, it might be easier to just take a vacation day and get on with registering for the event… but it doesn’t have to be that way! I reached out to Ashley Basile Oeken, president of Engage! Cleveland, for some of her tips and suggestions to help you expand your knowledge with a professional development event.
Ashley made a lot of good points in her initial conversation with me that would definitely pump me up to ask an employer for the day off. I figured I’d share a few with you to help you out as well!
Companies who do not offer professional development opportunities to their employees are going to lose those employees. Professional development is something that young professionals want and honestly need. If a company isn’t thinking proactively, they are losing out on a better educated workforce internally and likely that talent will choose to leave and work elsewhere.
Engage! Cleveland did a session on this exact topic last year at Next Generation of Women because it’s reflective of a huge need for women young professionals. These are critical conversations that we as young women find hard because:
We often have a hard time sharing our thoughts/ideas because we are scared
If our supervisor is a male, it brings a different dynamic/lack of understanding and often further intimidates us
Even if a supervisor is a female, some seasoned females come from the school of “tough love” and rather than embrace and help us, they think we need to “earn our stripes”, etc. (although Ashley noted this is a minority)
How do we, as young women, think we can be able to ask for maternity leave, a promotion, etc, if we can’t have this lower level conversation?
Ashley also mentioned that she believes companies should create a professional development plan with employees that shows what the benefits are for both the company and the employee. Collectively, expectations should be laid out. For example, employees may attend 1 professional development opportunity per quarter.
Armed with this knowledge from Ashley’s experiences, I asked for some tips on how to actually move forward and ask your employer if you could attend Next Generation of Women or any other Professional Development experience.
Ashley gave me the following tips:
Ask your supervisor to attend the opportunity in whatever format they like to be communicated to and you feel you will get the response you are seeking.
Bring collateral with you (or email) so that your supervisor gets a good understanding of the event/program.
Come in strong and enthusiastic (not apologetic for wanting the time away).
Share why you want to attend, what you are hoping to learn and what you can bring back to your role.
Inform them that if necessary, you’d be happy to check in/check emails, etc. during the break you are provided or later that evening when the event concludes to ensure that nothing slips through the cracks while you are gone.
Thank them for reviewing and let them know that you are happy to answer any questions and bring back your learnings.
You've got this! I'd love to have you join me, read more about the event here.
Photo credit: Engage Cleveland