On Wednesday YNPN Twin Cities joined me in hosting the fifth #ynpchat this year (Rosetta couldn’t join us this time as she was soaking up some sun in Jamaica!).  The topic was professional development: why it’s important and how young professionals can find valuable opportunities. Once again, I’m sharing a few insights from the conversation.

Q1.  In the current stage of your career, what are your goals around professional development?

@erinsapp: I’m trying to build skills around facilitation, analysis and communications while contributing to the field of civic engagement

@coien: I’m trying to branch out more from my “core competencies” to get a greater understanding of the whole nonprofit world

@3manypuppies: I’m still not sure what i want to do ultimately, so I’m trying to develop a well-rounded skill set that might take me anywhere

@nicycle: A lot of times I use Prof Dev opportunities to simply observe the facilitator. If they’re engaging, it’s a great lesson

Q2.  How important is an advanced degree to achieving your career goals?


@MLCVISTA: It seems advanced degrees are becoming more “desired”, but I find experience to be more useful/meaningful (and less expensive!)

@shariyatweets: I know one day I’ll go for masters but I taking courses at local college to be beneficial for quick learning & networking


@nicycle: I work with the Homeless Community and have doubts that adv degrees would be as worthwhile as YEARS of experience. Street smarts

@commutiny: I found that academic theory informed my practice and improved my performance. I find that really stimulating

@misschelseajean: If a Masters of Philanthropy was in Canada, I wud be taking it-as it is, I’m def having a hard time breaking into the field

@jessica_journey: Earned my MPA – very important. Didn’t want to hit a ceiling & get frustrated with the #nonprofit sector

What I like about the responses to this question is that they highlight the different roles of an advanced degree.  Some view it as form of professional development for job advancement, while others think it is useful for personal understanding.  There are different ways of getting more education for a position beyond graduate school and the importance of an advanced degree depends on your field, your interest, and your position.

Q3.  How much responsibility should nonprofit employers take for employee’s professional development?

@erinsapp: While employers should support employees’ professional development, it’s ultimately up to employees to engage, learn & grow.

@jessica_journey: IDEAL: #nonprofit employer matches employee $-for-$ (up to a maximum) for professional development resources (tuition, books)

@dan_blakemore: Employers should play a role in encouraging employees’ prof dev. At my org, it’s a line item in our dept budget

Q4.  What are the most cost effective ways to access professional development opportunities?

@ajlovesya Volunteer at conferences! You can get discounted rate or attend for free!

@ajlovesya: Colleges/universities offer a variety of free or low cost activities such as conferences, lectures, and fellowships

@commutiny: I got a local library to stock #thirdsector publications – free and public!

KatieBe_NC: I wanted my org to pay for my Wall Street Journal subscription. WSJ allowed me to talk w/donors

@marcapitman: look for mentors and then just ask them to mentor me. Usually freaks them out but a few say yes

@MLCVISTA:  Local resources, webinars, networking events (formal and informal), professional mentorship, volunteering.

Q5.  What are some valuable professional development opportunities you have participated in?

@patricksallee: if you are in the KC area, @npconnect_org is a tremendous resource for education and networking.

@erica_g: I participated in @smartnonprofits Leadership Institute and learned from great guest speakers in a fellowship program.

@shariyatweets: I go to networking events that aren’t related to #npo but technology/media just to learn about what others are doing and how

@ajlovesya: The Foundation Center has some great workshops at their locations and online http://ow.ly/28djK

@yayboy: late to the party, one of my FAVORITE pd resources are the craigslist foundation bootcamp podcasts. http://bit.ly/9u7jfG

@AFPCharlotte: @cmlibrary also offers free grant search training classes at Main Branch.

How would you answer these questions?

If you couldn’t join the chat, check out the conversation by doing a twitter search.  Stay tuned for our next twitter chat August 4th at 12pm EST!