A component of upskilling can influence your professional development journey. You may have attended a professional development session at your job as a part of a company-wide initiative to upskill employees. Professional development can take many shapes and sizes, but perhaps most importantly one should have an internal commitment to their own professional development. Your boss can encourage you to take a training session every so often, but real, tangible progress only occurs when you make the space to achieve the goals you set for yourself and your organization.

An easy way to do this is to make sure your professional development initiatives are coherent with your own passions and interests. Just like choosing college courses, you will do much better work when you choose a career, project, team, etc. that you care about and where you can make an impact in many ways. Regardless of the career path you choose, it’s important to create a plan with long term goals. For example, if you wanted to work on your Microsoft Excel skills, you might take a quick online program to build your knowledge and experience. It’s important to make space for these types of goals as they will depend heavily on your schedule. We all have different responsibilities–work, school, family, friends, hobbies, etc. and understand it can be challenging to make time for additional learning. Creating space for your professional and personal goals will make it much easier to dive into upskilling yourself.

However, skill building does not have to occur entirely out of the workspace. There are plenty of skills that you use every day–communication, writing, project management, etc. that can always be improved. Sometimes thinking intentionally about these things is enough to push yourself to new limits. Next time you write an email, think–“did I communicate this information as efficiently as possible? Have I left them with more questions than answers?” Putting yourself in the shoes of whoever is receiving your work is a great way to make sure that you are ticking all the boxes.

Over the long term, a great way to go about building yourself throughout your career is to seek out a mentor. Many companies have mentorship programs in place as they recognize the impact that a senior employee can have on a new hire. If not, it might be worth it to ask a supervisor or someone who has previously been in your role if they will have a recurring conversation with you about your work. In fact, 75% of executives have said that mentoring played a significant role in their career development.

There are many more ways to develop your professional skills–the most important part is your internal motivation and making time to learn. Start by asking yourself–What skills do I need? What skills do I want? What do I want out of my career right now? How soon do I want to accomplish that? Answering these questions will give you a solid foundation to build the rest of your career off of. And above all, if you want help or support, just ask.