I am a firm believer in the contribution training and development makes to one’s professional and personal growth. Training and development have given me a deeper knowledge and different perspective of the accounting profession and the company I work for. They have also helped me grow personally. Of course, some training can be expensive and in today’s economic climate, we are all looking for opportunities to improve ourselves personally and bolster our careers without impacting our budgets. Following are some suggestions for finding inexpensive opportunities for training and development:
- Join local accounting associations. Member resources (discussion groups, online toolkits, articles and whitepapers, and free webinars) offer enormous value relative to the membership fee. When personal funds are low, or the training budget at your organization is cut, this is a wonderful option to stay current on industry-related information and consistently improve your skills.
- Apply for a board position. Accounting and not-for-profit organizations and community associations such as the Rotary and Kiwanis Club provide many opportunities for development. Boards allow you the opportunity to interact and network with different colleagues, leaders and members of your community. These interactions enable you to see how different types of businesses run and build a database of contacts in different industries that may be useful to you and your work in the future. In addition, serving on a board may present you with public speaking opportunities, which can build your self-confidence and self-esteem.
- Attend local industry related conferences. Travel budgets are usually one of the first budgets cut during hard times. Look for local industry-related conferences that do not require hotel or travel expenses. You will receive the same information as you would attending a national conference, but at a reduced price.
- Volunteer for speaking engagements. When you speak at conferences or industry-related meetings, your travel costs may be covered and you might be offered the opportunity to attend other sessions at no cost. In addition, being a speaker gives you a chance to work on your confidence and public speaking skills.
- Volunteer to be on a conference planning committee. One of the best career decisions I’ve made was to be a part of a conference planning committee. Planning committees provide training sessions and networking opportunities at little or no cost. In my eyes this is a win-win situation: I volunteer my expertise to plan and sometimes speak at the conference and, in return, I receive inexpensive training, free or discounted CPE and numerous networking opportunities.
Kathy Johnson is the vice president of finance at the Los Angeles Newspaper Group, Inland Division. As VP or finance she is responsible for numerous tasks including financial reporting, coordination and analysis of operating and capital budgets and assuming the financial leadership role for divisional plans and proposals with financial implications. She is also an adjunct professor at University of Redlands. Prior to joining the Los Angeles Newspaper Group, Inland Division, Kathy worked at The Arizona Republic, Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal and USA Today’s Atlanta circulation office.