Training on the job: The value of professional development opportunities

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Professional development and training is critical to ascending the career ladder. Involvement in these activities will certainly make you more competitive in today’s job market.

Suniti Mujumdar, manager of Educational Initiatives at Alltech, a company headquartered in Nicholasville that has operations in animal feed, meat, brewing and distilling, said, “For Alltech, this shows the candidate’s level of professionalism, dedication to the industry and local communities and a desire to keep learning, all of which are important traits within our company culture.”

For most employers, the value of the training itself is more important than whether it takes place within the business or externally. Internal training opportunities vary among companies, but Bridge Logistics Inc., in Cincinnati has a thorough on the job training process for new hires.

Logan Sand, director of talent acquisition at Bridge, shares, “Everyone at our firm maintains a crucial role, so with all new hires we take them through a structured onboarding program from day one. With that being said, we also believe in individuality. We think of our processes and training as ‘tools in the toolbox’ for your success.”

The company’s onboarding program places employees in teams, giving each new hire a mentor. Also, the company’s full-time sales coach Ryan Ziemba “coaches them through scenarios and technique. You’ve got a really nice platform to launch your career,” Sands said.

Training opportunities at Alltech are plentiful, Mujumdar said.

“We offer our employees a range of training programs tailored to different roles. Within the first year of employment, all team members from around the world are invited to attend Back to Basics in Kentucky, home to our international headquarters. This introductory program features information about our history, solutions, business divisions and culture.

“After a few years of experience, colleagues are selected to attend the Talent Development Program, which focuses on our multidisciplinary sales process. Senior level managers are nominated to attend the mini-MBA, our advanced management program conducted in partnership with University College Dublin’s Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School (Ireland).”

Also, Alltech is supportive of employees becoming involved in professional associations, Mujumdar said. Involvement in a professional association allows for networking as well as opportunities to share valuable best practices among like-minded professionals.

Alltech has realized that supporting employee involvement in professional associations is good for the entire company.

“Our team learns about industry issues, best managerial practices, business strategies, effective applications of technology and so much more from members and organizers of these associations. Our colleagues then share those insights with other Alltech team members. This multiplier effect helps us to quickly communicate great information across our international team.” Mujumdar said.

Companies that support professional development of employees reap the benefits of the knowledge gained. Participation in training activities also allows employees to gain confidence and can improve morale of a team.

Sands added, “There’s nothing like a vibrant corporate culture that works in collaborative environments, has positive affirmation meetings every morning, email blasts sent out company-wide of the wins of the day. Employees being involved in the continual evolution of our success and personal/professional growth is what drives us every day. It’s why our leadership staff conducts the onboarding and training internally.”

It’s best to take advantage of training initiatives within your company and through professional associations in order to stay up to date on best practices in your field and learn about potential networking opportunities.

Here are a few suggestions for how to find professional associations or networking groups in your interest area:

▪  Consult colleagues or mentors you know working in similar areas to you. Ask them what professional development opportunities they have taken advantage of including professional associations, networking groups, conferences, etc.

▪  Take advantage of the Find Professional Associations function on the business center website which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor.

▪  Conduct a LinkedIn group search. A simple group search for your job function should yield networking and professional development groups of interest.

Amanda Schagane serves as a career counselor in the Gatton College of Business & Economics at UK. She is designated a Master Career Counselor by the National Career Development Association and currently serves as president for the Kentucky chapter of the organization. Join her on LinkedIn or email her at