Professional development doesn’t have to involve formal, structured classes or programs. Informal learning can be just as powerful as formal training. Start by identifying the skills you’d like to develop, then use this guide to consider the professional development options that best fit your current needs.
- Informal and unstructured
- Informal with some structure
- Formal and structured
- Funds for professional development
- Volunteer for a project you might otherwise avoid due to skill level – use the opportunity to learn while at work.
- Join committees/groups in your department or in your private life to build communication, leadership, and other essential skills.
- Talk to your supervisor about your goals; discuss upcoming projects or opportunities to build a skill.
- Read about new developments in your current field or a field of interest.
- Take on new challenges in your current position. Look for projects and long- or short-term assignments.
- Connect to University networks to find a professional mentor – someone who can help you identify skills to build and offer guidance. Academic Staff Mentoring Committee; Mentoring and Network Programs (you will need scroll down to find info on these programs)
- Join a professional organization related to your interests. Attend meetings, workshops, and conferences offered by the organization. Join the board or committees within the organization. Help coordinate events.
- Join a Community of Practice in your field of interest to find support and resources that might be beneficial.
- Pay attention to conferences – these can be great opportunities for informal training and to connect with potential mentors who can help support your career goals. UW–Madison Campus Conference Schedule
- Noncredit courses and certificates for professionals are available through the Division of Continuing Studies
- Register for workshops and programs designed to address specific development needs on campus that are often free to employees through Learning and Talent Development
- UW–Madison credit class options:
- University Special (nondegree) students aren’t currently working towards a degree but take classes for professional development, personal interest, or as prerequisites for graduate or professional programs.
- For information on completing an undergraduate degree, as a freshman or transfer student, visit the Office of Admissions and Recruitment.
- UW–Madison Online offers fully online undergraduate degree options designed for those who have some college credits.
- If you have some college credits but face barriers to undergraduate transfer admission at UW–Madison, explore the Badger Ready Program.
- Graduate School programs at UW–Madison
- There are dozens of Professional Degrees and Certificates to explore, many offered in flexible learning options.
Available at no cost to all UW–Madison employees, LinkedIn Learning offers professional development opportunities on a wide range of topics. Look for the LinkedIn Learning tile in your MyUW portal and log in using your NetID and password. Once you are logged in, use the search feature to find a specific subject or “Browse” to see an overview of courses. For more information, view the LinkedIn Learning FAQ KB page.