Striving for Professional Development in Your Career

Monday, July 30, 2018

I’ve posted on this blog before about having to tackle some new things this year in my professional career, as I took a full-time job in marketing for a non-profit company. First, I was excited, because I’ve always loved theatre, especially musical theatre. Then I became overwhelmed, because I’m one of two full-time employees and basically operate as a one-woman marketing and development team. In the spring, I became determined to focus on how to better myself in my position, even as I stumble along the way, because I know I have the smarts and motivation to succeed at whatever I put my heart in. (Think positive!)

I started off by listening to motivational podcasts while I’m in the car and exercising. I know I’m weakest at sales and development, so I try to listen to episodes that target that weakness and make me excited about prospects. I didn’t know a lot about graphic design, but I’m trying to watch tutorials about different Photoshop techniques and am looking into finding a local class I can take. This past weekend, I attended a local theatre conference and was asked to present on a panel about marketing tips for theatres. I’ll be honest, I felt like a fraud when I accepted the invitation. “They’re only asking me to be on the panel because I’m a woman, and every speaker and panelist this year on the conference is a woman to align with the theme of lifting up and empowering women in the performing arts,” I told myself.

Then I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to learn. I attended the keynote speech and a presentation by another all-female theatre group on their evolution. This morning, I sat on the panel, and while I did offer a few tips on how our company markets shows, I learned a great deal and am now armed and ready to head to the office tomorrow with fresh new ideas for marketing, design templates, photography and videography and project management systems.

This job has helped me be more productive in my own writing. Because I only have a set amount of hours per week for creative writing, I have to be intentional with my time. I’ve also been seeking out online classes I can take to help me in areas where I feel my writing is weakest. And I’m researching what writing conference I would like to attend in 2019 am including it in my own personal development plan. (I’m eyeing a novel-writing conference in California, but there are so many out there to choose from!) It will be pricey with conference registration, plane ticket, hotel, etc. but that's why I'm going to target in on one now and start putting money aside for it.

So if you haven’t taken the steps in creating your own professional development plan, I highly encourage you to do so! It doesn’t have to be expensive—you can attend a conference within driving distance or take one of WOW’s affordable classes, but make yourself a priority. Your writing and your mental health will thank you.

What have you done to enrich your life as a writer? Have you taken a class, workshop, internship, or attended a conference? I'd love to hear about your own experiences!

Renee Roberson is an award-winning writer and editor who also works as a marketing director for a non-profit theatre company. Her short fiction has received accolades in both the thriller, young adult and flash fiction categories and she is in the process of revising two contemporary young adult novels. Learn more about Renee at


Sioux Roslawski said...

Renee--I'm sure you've read about them, but Highlights has writing workshops ( They do have offerings for writers of YA novels. I know someone who went, and they said it was fabulous.

The theater that snagged you is lucky to have gotten you, and I have a feeling you'll finish at least one of those novels this year... with a little help from your friends.

Angela Mackintosh said...

Renee, this post is so positive! I love your drive. It sounds like the panel was a positive learning experience. I agree with Sioux, the theater company is lucky to have you. You are doing a fantastic job.

Now I'm thinking about writing conferences! I'm also thinking of getting back into writing fiction since I've been watching so many shows made from novels and reading fiction this summer. There are so many great novel conferences, but not much for CNF. Let me know what conference you decide on. It may be possible to get a press pass and I can assign you to cover it for a feature article on WOW. :)

Renee Roberson said...

Sioux--I checked out the workshops at Highlights. I knew they had them but I had no idea how comprehensive they were and that the registration includes workshop, meals and lodging. And in the Poconos to boot? Ahh. That sounds pretty doable and they have some great topics. Why am I finding all these great conferences that take place in the fall when I probably won't be able to do one until next year. Grr! Thanks for putting these on my radar. And I would be nowhere with any of these manuscripts without a certain accountability group in my life.

Angela--I am trying so hard to be positive. Listening to all these motivational podcasts has really helped pumped me up and see how blessed I am with all the opportunities I've had over the years. I'll flip through some of my back issues of Writer's Digest and see if I see any conferences geared towards creative non-fiction that you could check out. I'd be happy to do some reporting at whichever one I end up with!

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Wow! Have they figured out yet that they've got a great person working for them?

I do some workshops and conferences but I also love MOOC classes. The odd thing? I don't take writing classes. I take classes on archaeology, anthropology and history. Once I signed up for a class on space exploration using chemistry. I just wanted to read more about it! But it was a great class.

My advice - look for the learning opportunities all around you. And you, my friend, are doing a great job.


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