Education - Page 2 - Taking your career to the next level

- Page 2
Taking your career to the next level
Professional certification builds critical skills that lead to advancement

By Megan Weeden, Contributing Writer

Rather than starting a new degree program, certifications are a quick way to gain skills that will boost your resume and raise your value as a job candidate.

For young professionals seeking job growth, Loyola University Maryland’s Sellinger School of Business offers various leadership development programs.

The Leadership Essentials Howard County and Leadership Essentials Baltimore programs target rising stars and future leaders who are in the beginning and middle of their careers.

Designed to address the critical gap between the skills provided by formal education and the full development of seasoned professionals, Leadership Essentials offers a skill-building program that includes monthly workshops, individual coaching and team-based projects to address the needs of local non-profit organizations.

Each year, about 25 participants are selected into the program, which runs from December through June. These cohorts represent the surrounding community and include large and small businesses, government, education, health care and nonprofits including the arts, social services and faith-based groups.

Loyola also offers an Advanced Leadership Development program for professionals who aspire to positions of greater responsibility, accountability and organizational impact.

Participants in this five-module program acquire skills to learn about themselves and how to influence others, lead change and maximize their overall organizational effectiveness. The program can be completed at Loyola’s Graduate Centers in Timonium or Columbia or it can be held onsite at the client’s organization.

“Often people get promoted because of their technical acumen, but as they move up, there’s a greater need for leadership skills – being able to lead teams, build relationships and lead change,” says Scott Moores, director of executive education. “They really need these skills to be able to ascend and continue their careers.”

Salisbury University students interested in pursuing careers in the non-profit sector can earn certified nonprofit professional credentials.

Through a partnership with the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance, the certified nonprofit professional credential program is open to undergraduate students from any major field.

The CNP prepares those undergraduate students who have done volunteer or service work, who are passionate about making a difference and are looking for a career path in which they can apply knowledge from their majors into the nonprofit sector.

All requirements for the program can be accomplished as part of the student’s overall course of study and doesn’t add additional time. Students take two courses that address 10 core competencies, complete a 300-hour internship at a 501(c)(3) organization and attend an annual conference.

While earning her bachelor’s degree in conflict analysis and dispute resolution, Melissa Joy decided to add the CNP to her resume since she’d already had various volunteer experiences.

As part of the program, Joy completed an internship at Hope and Life Outreach in Salisbury.

“After I finished my internship, they hired me,” says Joy. “I’m the resource and respite center coordinator. It turned out perfectly because I wasn’t sure where I would work after graduating. If I had not done the program, I would have been much more aimless. I was closing in on my last year, and I had no idea where to do my internship. It helped me focus my avenue.”

For those who have always wanted to be a doctor but didn’t take the right classes in college, it’s not too late.

Goucher College offers a post-baccalaureate pre-med program designed specifically for career changers.

“Our average age is 27, so the students have been out of school for about five years or so,” says Betsy Merideth, program director. “They come from all different majors – we’ve had English majors, philosophy majors, drama majors – who’ve all been doing other things. At some point, they’ve decided that they want to be a doctor. But, they come to the program without having taken really more than one science course a number of years ago.”

Goucher’s program is an 11-month long program that begins in June and includes the four year-long programs that are needed to get into medical school: general chemistry, organic chemistry, biology and physics. MCAT preparation is also integrated into the program, so that after 11 months, students are prepared to take the MCATs and then apply to medical school.

Rebecca Howland, 26, received her undergraduate degree in public policy analysis from Pomona College. After working in Washington D.C., for two years as a health consultant and researcher, Howland realized that she wanted to transition from the health policy world to the medicine world.

Howland recently completed Goucher’s program and is now attending medical school at the University of Michigan.

“I had looked at a lot of different programs and decided that I wanted to do a programwhere I’d be taking classes only with post-baccs, not with undergrads,” says Howland. “I’m very glad I made the choice. At the time, it was really scary. I was sure I wanted to be a doctor, but wasn’t sure about the whole process. But I’mglad that I did it and that I did it at Goucher. The program got me really excited about science and the career that I would be going down. Goucher’s program is a very collaborative and non-competitive environment. It’s a really exciting community – people are coming from these really interesting backgrounds.”•

Professional certifications

Certifications are issued by a nongovernmental certification body and convey that a person has the knowledge or skill to perform a specific job.

In some professions, certification is a requirement for employment – doctors, mechanics, accountants, professional secretaries and many others all go through some type of certification. Certification enhances the employability and career advancement of the employee and many organizations in today’s competitive economy have recognized their workforce as their most valuable asset.

Business professionals who are certified often earn more than those who are not certified.

Professional certifications offer an opportunity to get to the next level of your career and most require a lot less commitment of both your time and money than a degree program. Earning a certification can also give you a leg up in the job market and is a key item employers look for on resumes.

Occupational certification programs are available in a wide range of subjects such as accounting, art, education, engineering, law, life skills, management, marketing, medicine and health care and technology. •

PHOTO DESCRIPTION: Left: Loyola University Maryland’s Sellinger School of Business offers various leadership development programs. Seen here is Michael Liebman, affiliate instructor of management and international business at Loyola’s Sellinger School of Business.