Photo Credit: Pete Saloutos/uppercut/getty images
When you’re working a full-time job – or looking for one – it can be hard to find time to practice the skills that can get to the next level of your career. Luckily, there are lots of fun ways to improve your position outside of the office. Here are three unconventional ways to build your skills without setting foot in a classroom.
Practice Public Speaking Outside the Office
Got stage fright? You’re in good company if you do: According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), about 75 percent of women suffer from some sort of speech anxiety. But if you want to climb the corporate later, public speaking is a skill you’ll need to master . Whether you’re giving a presentation to a prospective client, a room full of your peers or a large audience of strangers, it’s important to learn how to confidently and effectively deliver a message.
Sure, you could face your fear by taking a traditional public speaking course or joining your local Toastmasters club, but signing up for an improvisational theater class or other acting workshop may be a little more fun and low stress. Even easier? Volunteer to be a reader at your local place of worship or ask to give a presentation to one of your professional associations about a cause that’s important to you. ’The more you practice, the easier it will be to transition these skills into the workplace.
Lead a Cause
It’s a common problem: You want to take on a larger role in the company, but your boss says you need more management experience.
Luckily, there are ways to develop your leadership and management skills outside of your daily roles and responsibilities. One good one: Volunteer for a cause you truly care about and offer to head a committee or project. To practice your management skills, offer to mentor an intern or a more junior colleague. Additionally, take advantage of your personal interests and offer them up to the company. For example, you could lead a beginner yoga class or head up a company-wide suit drive for Dress for Success® and manage the team of volunteers.
Join a Team
Have you gotten feedback that you need to be a better team player? Or do you find it incredibly frustrating to get anything accomplished in a group project when you’re not the one leading the charge? While you may be a natural leader, you’ll find it hard to get ahead in your career if you can’t play nicely with others.
There’s no better way to learn the value of teamwork than to join a team sport. Check out sites like ZogSports to find a recreational sports league near you. If sports aren’t your thing, look for groups on Meetup or other light-hearted competitions such as public scavenger hunts. Participating in any one of these activities will help you work on teamwork and communication skills with a diverse group of people.
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