This blog is on topics of interest to early career professionals who work with people with disabilities. Blog contributors have diverse perspectives on leadership, professional development, and success in changing systems to better serve people with disabilities and their families. For more information on Early Career Professionals, check out the website:

27 April, 2010

Self-Directed Professional Development

Because I am in the processes of transitioning to a new job that represents professional advancement, I was asked to post a reflection on self-directed activities that I believe are useful in contributing to one’s professional development. Assuming you have a general idea of what kind of job you would like to have next and the skills or experience you will need to be successful, its possible to take steps to enhance your existing skills and learn new things by becoming more aware (and taking advantage) of the opportunities you may already have to observe, read, and engage as you move you toward your goal.

Observe both the function and structure of the professional activities around you and try to make connections about why and how items were included or excluded. Observe the kinds of cognitive leaps and connections that people you admire make in discussions and meetings and reflect on how these people think through problems and find solutions. Determine the key sources from which the information you need to grow professionally is available in an ongoing manner—websites, listservs, newletters, journals, and other periodicals—and set aside the time each day to read something from these sources. Think of every conference, meeting, and committee as a professional development opportunity where you can learn at least one new thing, share information with others, expand your network of contacts, and develop relationships. Seek out opportunities to serve on inter-departmental or interagency committees, committees of any professional associations that you belong to, review panels for grantmakers, nonprofit boards, and so on. In addition to contributing to the success of the group, you have the opportunity to develop new skills, gain new perspectives, and build personal and professional relationships.

19 April, 2010

Inaugural Post

As the inaugural blogger on the Early Career Professionals (ECP) website, I would like to extend a warm welcome to all readers and future contributors. After looking through the website, I can see how this will be an excellent resource for trainees and early career professionals! This blog will be about my experience at the Disability Policy Seminar and how it ties into my professional development.
An important part of my role as the Virtual Trainee is to attend the Disability Policy Seminar, which took place this past week in Washington DC. At this meeting, I had the opportunity to learn about many different policies affecting the lives of people with disabilities. I had the opportunity to see several intelligent and passionate speakers who have devoted their lives to the belief that legislation and policy in this country should emphasize social justice and equality, even in a time of economic stress. I also found that I needed a BIG refresher in the legislative process and government organization (Social Studies was a LONG time ago!).

But the most important part of this trip centered on the opportunity for action - the chance to be part of the legislative process, to see how it all worked....and to learn this from the most amazing group of self-advocates and parents of children with disabilities made it all the more remarkable. If you attended the Seminar feel free to reply to this post and share how the Seminar impacted you as an early career professional.

Also, if you are looking for activities to “do” to help you develop as an early career professional, check out the Resource Bank on the ECP website and Click “do”. This will generate a list of activities to help you develop as an early career professional.

Lisa, AUCD Virtual Trainee