During my service I found no shortage of career and leadership development opportunities. Training offered could often be used towards career advancement and leadership develop in some way, shape or form. Nothing was wasted. Most training eventually lead to promotion points, which contributed to advancement. The first few years of AGR were often spent on TDY earning some kind of certificate of completion. Even as a traditional guardsmen, drill weekends were often shaped around some form of training that would contribute to career and leadership development. I genuinely expected the civilian sector to do the same.

When I retired and began my journey in the civilian sector I was shocked to learn it was different. The same urgency and importance was not placed on career and leadership development. Many companies were proud to offer annual mandatory online classes, which often did not lead to advancement. Few offered all employees the opportunity to take actual leadership and career specific courses that contributed to advancement. Frankly, if employees did not invest in their own develop, they may not have received it at all.

What I discovered are employees who went the extra mile to invest in themselves are better off. Credentials earned from accredited institutions maybe useful in related industries regardless of employer. In addition, the employee displays their committment to personal and professional development by absording the cost of their development. This is attractive to employers who want highly qualified talent and without the time and financial committment. Tuition assistance is nice, but carries a price. Rightfully so, employers want to reap what they sew, thus enforcing mandatory reimbursement of assistance if a minimum employment commitment is not fulfilled.

Don’t be discouraged if your employer does not display the same amount of enthusiasm for career and leadership development as you once received from the military. Instead use these pieces of advise to help you cope with the difference.

  1. Consider making the investment in yourself. Yes, it will cost you some upfront cash, however, you can take the credential with you.
  2. Research your corporate tuition assistance program. If you are OK with the terms, submit a request. Understand that no job is 100% secure, so save accordingly.
  3. Change your mindset about corporate career development. Take as many courses and classes as you can excel. Keep in mind that the knowledge you gain can be used anywhere you go. So what if the employer specific education are only useful with that specific organization. You have sharpened your skills and enhanced your knowledge base, which makes you smarter and more mature than your co-workers who refuse to do the same.
  4. Have a candid conversation with your leadership about what is important to you and how they may help. Leaders are not mind readers. If career development is important, tell them. Good leaders will use the information for your and the organization’s good.

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