Like all young people at the time, I had part-time jobs in my teens but my first permanent job was in the UK public service. In those days, I remember as a clerk being given a job of preparing an acknowledgement letter which I felt was a very simple task and well within my capabilities. However, the management structure then meant 3 or 4 people had to check my work before it was agreed that someone senior would be prepared to sign it! Happily, times have changed and employers now provide opportunities such as mentoring and training for growth and confidence. At the same time, I was attending college part-time to learn secretarial skills which became the start of my professional development to build on existing skills and knowledge.
Over the years, a natural progression of knowledge and therefore skill, occurred in each role. How many people can remember typing on a golf ball typewriter I wonder? That was the in-thing and I was very excited to be using one. Of course, then computers evolved and a whole new era began from the clunky typewriters, desktop computers to the sleek/fast laptops. Another skill I gained was audio transcribing, first experienced at a Patent agent and I am still using it today. Instead of Pitman Shorthand which I found challenging, I studied an American form of shorthand called “Speed Writing”, opening up opportunities to consider jobs that required audio transcribing and/or dictation. I have managed many events since being in Australia but my first opportunity was in London when I co-organised a major conference involving EU companies which also involved translation requirements, formal government cocktail party and dinners as well as the travel and accommodation arrangements. This experience was a great learning curve and a good grounding to provide me with the skills and knowledge to run events throughout my career including on a volunteer basis.
I think you get the picture by now, I am very passionate about PD. So much so, I have joined groups over the years that encourage PD development, including the Australian Institute of Office Professionals (AIOP) of which I am pleased to have been an active member and past President giving me an opportunity to offer mentoring and encouragement for PD to members and guests. Indeed, in the NT, I was fortunate to build good relationships with Charles Darwin University and Darwin HR and Computer Academy who still provide amazing PD opportunities for members. I believe PD is an essential tool to assist you to build on your skills and knowledge to advance your career options. It is important though you choose relevant subjects to meet your goals. With the advent of the ‘www’ many more people choose business courses because they can encompass financial; administrative; legal; internet and sometimes computer knowledge which would be the base for any career in the future. Every employer will include in their selection criteria questions on computer skills and software knowledge. In today’s business world, if you are a contractor, an office professional or a gardener, there is always a need to use a computer so it’s essential to have some knowledge, even if you are starting with the basics.
I am now fortunate to be running my own Virtual Assistant business and YES I am still learning new software. Interestingly, I had not even heard of a virtual assistant until I attended an AIOP conference and I was so inspired. I knew it was going to be another goal for me. Now I am using my lifetime skills and knowledge through PD and employment to provide quality administrative services to anyone in the world who needs it. So, I cannot encourage you enough to explore what is missing in your career options and find organisations such as AIOP that can assist you.
“Knowledge is a familiarity, awareness, or understanding of someone or something, such as facts, information, descriptions, or skills, which is acquired through experience or education by perceiving, discovering, or learning. Knowledge can refer to a theoretical or practical understanding of a subject”
“ipsa scientia potestas est” (‘knowledge itself is power’) – Sir Francis Bacon