Gifting Toward Your Career This Holiday Season

This month I posted on LinkedIn the start of the next semester of online classes for AGC. Every day in the construction workplace is an opportunity to learn on the job, which is one of the many reasons construction managers enjoy their work. Yet few, after completing their college degrees, pursue and complete additional fee-based training unless an employer pays them to do so or a license renewal requires it. If you are one of those individuals that hasn’t attended an in-person or online new learning course or refresher course, can you answer why with any other reason than time and cost?

Pew Research, in their study on lifelong learning and technology, found that in 2016, 73% of adults considered themselves lifetime learners and 74% personal learners. The personal learners stated they learned through activities such as

  • reading how-to magazines, consumer magazines, or other publications related to some area of personal interest;
  • attending a meeting to learn new information, such as a book club, sports club, or support group;
  • attending a convention or conference to learn something of personal interest, such as a home or garden show;
  • taking a course related to their personal interest or hobby; or
  • taking an online course.

Thirty-six percent of adults categorized as professional learners and stated they took a class or received training

  • to learn, maintain, or improve job skills;
  • for a license or certification needed for their job;
  • to help get a raise or promotion at work;
  • to help get a new job with a different employer; or
  • because they were worried about possible downsizing or layoffs.

This time of year, many construction companies are gifting employees with cash or a bonus during the holiday season. For many, this extra cash goes toward things they need or special items outside their budget they have been waiting on. There is nothing wrong with using your bonus on things you want, although how often is the gift of education even thought of over an incidental or frivolous purchase?

When an individual invests in professional development, the money spent has lasting rewards and value. Career development through training courses or continuing higher education not only helps you stay relevant but also shows your employer you don’t expect all the investment to come from them. In addition, by choosing to use your own money, the investment has a higher emotional return as, typically, most will manage the result of their own investment better than one gifted or required of them.

Often people think going to college or university for a degree is the only education that pays off. With or without a college degree, learning and building on your work-specific skills and soft skills, including your behavioral tendencies and bad habits, present payoffs that can be immeasurable.

Colleges offer continuing education classes on everything from industry skills to communication, public speaking, leadership development, writing, and computer skills. Other venues offer programs of varying lengths, and I always recommend, if working in construction, investing in an industry-taught and specific program—such as a Project Management Course—taught by a construction industry-employed adjunct professor or AGC over a general PMP taught by . In addition, other options are webinars, workshops, seminars, and teaching series held at private venues and often sponsored by your industry associations or specifically targeted toward your industry.

Programs can be as little as a few hours and are often held on an evening or a Saturday. Even taking one program a year will add up over time and may encourage you to do an annual self-evaluation. Something is better than nothing. Technology has advanced to improve on quality, content, and availability.

Investing in yourself is one of the most rewarding choices you can make as a professional in the construction industry or any industry you want to build a career within. Whether enrolling in college courses to obtain a higher-level degree or taking industry-specific training classes necessary to advance your career, such investment in yourself can make you a much more marketable candidate in your career of choice. The more marketable you are as a candidate, the higher your chances will be to score a position with more responsibility and a better salary. Your current employer will likely see your commitment to self-improvement as it will be demonstrated with your dedication, initiative, and drive—which many business owners consider to be characteristics of a leader in the making.

So, what are your waiting for? Give yourself a gift this holiday season. Invest in yourself or a loved one. You won’t regret it. If you need help finding the right option for you, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We are always here to help you with sound advice for growing your career.

Here are some resources with established curricula and industry and soft skills to enhance your career in Construction Management:

Associated General Contractors

Vector Solutions

American Society of Professional Estimators

Toast masters International

Dale Carnegie

Lorman Education Services

Florida University Programs with Construction Management and Continuing Education Programs:

Florida International University

The University of Florida

Everglades University

Broward College

The University of North Florida

Santa Fe College

Miami Dade College

Palm Beach State College

Reading and listening to blogs, books, and podcasts are also great ways to learn something valuable for your career. For no cost at all, you can subscribe to the blog I write weekly, and I have just released my first book Happily Married To Your Employer for presale at It will dispel myths you may have regarding your career, help you learn more about yourself and show you how to make smart career choices in the now that allow more opportunities in the future. In addition, we are just a call, text or email away to help you with sound career advice through our coaching and career-matchmaking services.

Yes, dedication to working in your career is important, although working on your career—even a little a year—will fill the cracks in your foundation and increase your value.

To Gifting Your Career,

Suzanne Breistol


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