The Oso Landslide, Washington State

Like many of you I have been following the news of the landslide that happened last month in Oso, Washington. The official death toll for this tragic event was raised this week to 39 and will probably crest over 40 as 4 persons are still listed as missing.

For a little perspective on the event I am linking to a video in which Geologist Dr. Daniel J. Miller explains how it has been known for some time that the area has been prone to mudslides. In 1999 Dr. Miller reported to the Army Corps of Engineers that there was “the potential for a large catastrophic failure”.

For more information on the here is a New York Times peace on the subject.

I would also like to draw your attention to this Seattle Times article by Geologist David Montgomery. It touches on the importance of having a good understanding of potential geological hazards and the need to make a review existing landslide hazard zones.

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Free Education: The You Tube Lecture

I initially constructed this blog as part of Social Media for Business class taught by Bret Simmons. I and the other students taking the class were members of ProNet in Reno NV. So I’m not yet quite sure what direction this blog is going to go in but I thought I should show that I am trying to practice what I have been preaching in my first three posts.

Here is the lecture series that I just started watching online.
Engineering Geology And Geotechnics – Lecture 1
Most of you, who are not geologists or civil engineers may be thoroughly bored by a two hour discussion of soil and rock mechanics. But I’m enjoying it!

You won’t get any collage credit or certification from watching a free lecture on Youtube. But it’s still free education and not a resource you should overlook when you want to learn something new.

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The Payoffs of Professional Development

file3171299616544It’s time to wrap up my initial foray into blogging. Having considered the personal costs of professional development let’s take a quick look at the benefits of your investment. The way I see it, there are three primary payoffs to consider.

The Actual Knowledge or Abilities That You Gain
What we can actually learn from any sort of class, short course or lecture is the obvious measuring stick we use when evaluating if we got our money’s worth or if our time was well spent being instructed. While gaining marketable skills may always remain our primary goal, we need to examine the other (following) benefits that might also justify the expenditure of time and money for professional education.

Certification
You may know something, but can you prove it? Never forget that paperwork is powerful. You can put certifications on resumes and it allows you to provide evidence when others actually ask you about the skills that you claim to posses. There are a myriad of computer programs, machines, tools and vehicles both common and highly specialized that you could gain experience with without undergoing formal training. But without a training certificate it falls on you to demonstrate what you know to an employer who (more likely than not) will ask you to meet a very high burden of proof.

Networking
This one might come as a surprise as we often think of networking and training as different activities. But remember, you aren’t (usually) the only one in the class room, field trip or lecture hall. Your teachers, and fellow students are people that you may want to meet. Networking is probably the least considered result of adult education. But it may very well be the most important thing you get out of the experience. Taking a class, going on an industry tour or participating in a seminar can be a great way to meet people who, like you, are developing their career and may share some of your professional interests.

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The Costs of Professional Development; what if it was fun?

In my last post I wrote about the need to be proactive in seeking professional development through continued education even if you get no assistance from your employer. Now I’d like to look at the costs of education and what we can do to overcome our aversion to spending our time and money.

file0001943523523Your Time
Your evenings and weekends are important to you. But just what are you using them for? If you don’t have a good answer then you may not be making a good use of your time at present. Ultimately the amount of rest and relaxation that you can sacrifice in order to improve yourself is a very personal question. For those people who have families your personal time comes at an even higher premium than a single individual like myself. But before you say you don’t have the time to take a class, examine what you are spending your time on. Like many other people, I know that I have been very guilty of frittering away vast amounts time on idol and utterly profitless pursuits. It’s probably a worthwhile exercise for everyone to examine just what it is that we are spending our time on. Time is a limited resource that gets spent regardless of what we do.

file000510961540Your Dime
Let’s assume that you are getting no financial assistance from your employer or anyone else to pursue additional education for your career. Of course if you are getting assistance of one form or another, more power to you. Just how to get your employer to chip in for training might be subject for a future blog post. But for now, let’s look at this from the perspective of doing it on your own. Naturally we have to weigh the value of any class, certification or training we might choose to spend our money on. Certainly some educational courses may not be worth what you would be asked to pay for them but others might pay significant dividends.

file5781246660584Hobby Your Professional Development
No, I didn’t say “hobble” your development. I am saying, Make a hobby of it.
The truth is, most of us will always be jealous of our time and tight-fisted with our money. Unfortunately this can severely hamper our attempts to develop professionally. But, we all have hobbies (or at least I hope we all do). While it can’t be said that all hobbies are profitable, it can be said that the right kind can keep us mentally and/or physically engaged while still providing us with necessary distraction. Anyone who has had a hobby, that they really loved, will readily tell you that they have spent significant amounts of both time and money in pursuit of their chosen diversion, often without any regret what so ever.

So if you can do it (without rolling your eye’s) consider making your professional development into a hobby; build your skills the way some build model rockets, network with people the way others go bird watching, collect certifications the way you might collect stamps. If we think of it that way maybe it will be easier for us to part with both our beloved time and our precious dime.

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Professional Training, Education and Career Development; don’t wait until you’re out of a job

Professional development is something often neglected when times are good. Many people, when they have a job, don’t bother thinking about how they will get their next one. Some people are fortunate enough that their work place provides ample opportunities to develop new skills via on-the-job training, employer funded short courses or simply providing new challenges to employees on a regular basis. Unfortunately all too many employers are only interested in keeping their employees entirely focused on a narrow set of specific tasks and don’t put much consideration into expanding the capabilities and skill set of the work force that they already have. So for the majority of us;

Professional development has to be done on one’s own time and on one’s own dime.

Your Time & Your DimeFor some, who have real restrictions on their time and money, this can be a barrier to professional development. But for most of us it’s more of a mental barrier than an actual limitation. It may be true that going back to college, full-time, and getting yet another degree is beyond your financial or emotional capacity. But, that does not mean that you do not have the resources available to get additional education and training. For many it is simply a question of will.

Last year a coworker and friend of mine took an evening class in Project Management at one of our local college institutions. I have to say that at the time I was very impressed by this and I am certain others in the company were as well. Later, when our company hit hard times, I was caught up in the layoffs. I am now using this time for some professional education and retraining of my own. But even when I do find a new job (and I will) I plan to be more proactive in the future about continually seeking professional education and career training while still on the job. Because this subject has been on my mind as of late, I plan to use my next few posts to muse about the costs (in Time & Dime) as well as the ultimate pay offs of seeking education on one’s own personal schedule, outside of the work place.

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