20 Career Development Opportunities

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated March 17, 2021

Published January 5, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Whether you just entered into your desired career field or have some professional experience already, there is always time to develop a career plan for your future. Career development opportunities help professionals at different levels of their careers in succeeding to the next step in their professional lives. By understanding the different career development opportunities available to you, you can create a plan to achieve your career goals.

In this article, we define career development opportunities, review why it's important to take advantage of them, provide a few tips to help you pursue the right career development opportunities and list 20 types of development opportunities you can try.

Related: 10 Key Strengths To Develop for Career Advancement

What are career development opportunities?

Career development opportunities are those that allow individuals to reach new levels of professionalism through areas like networking, continued education or skill advancement. This often results in obtaining jobs with more seniority or leadership responsibilities and, in doing so, increasing annual income.

Related: Career Development Theory: Definition and Examples

Why is it important to take advantage of career development opportunities?

It's important to take advantage of career development opportunities for several reasons. Here are some key examples of why career development opportunities are so important, regardless of your profession:

Introduces you to new areas of professional interest

By taking part in career development opportunities, you could potentially identify one or more alternative career paths that align with your interests and professional goals.

Ensures you stay motivated and inspired

Partaking in career development opportunities helps remind you of your goals and why you're working in a particular job field. This further helps enhance your current job motivation to perform to the best of your ability and reach new milestones.

Provides you with a sense of fulfillment

When you stay at one job for a long period of time or consistently work in the same job role, you might start to long for a new challenge. This is when career development opportunities can help you. You have the ability to achieve new qualifications and take the next step in your career to a role that gives you a revised sense of fulfillment in your personal and professional life.

Helps guide your job search decisions

Through career development opportunities like networking, you may learn about employers with job openings to apply for. Achieving advanced certifications also allows you to expand your job search to more senior or specialty roles.

Related: How To Develop Your Skill Set To Advance Your Career

Tips for pursuing career development opportunities

There are several factors to consider when deciding how to enhance your career development. Review these tips to help you pursue the right kinds of career development opportunities and achieve your career goals:

Set realistic, time-driven goals

Start by outlining your career plan and determining a few goals to achieve within a reasonable time-frame. This could be as simple as "research online training courses by the end of the month" or "apply to 10 software development jobs each month."

Research success stories and job tracts for similar careers

If you aren't sure which career development opportunities to pursue to further your career goals, start by reading articles, conducting informational interviews with industry professionals and reviewing job track information. This gives you an idea of how professionals in your desired job position got to where they are and allow you to set specific career objectives that reflect their methods.

Focus on improving your weaknesses before enhancing your strengths

Working on your weaknesses first helps you build confidence and allows you to achieve new levels of professionalism before you pursue career development opportunities in strength areas.

Speak with your direct superior about internal promotions or company training

There may be career development opportunities that your current employer offers to company employees. By having a meeting with your direct superior about your career aspirations, you demonstrate your professional ambition. Because of this, they might provide you with information about job opportunities within the company or training programs to complete to qualify for promotions.

Maintain positive professional relationships with your colleagues

Coworkers and professionals within your job field act as great network connections when pursuing future job opportunities. These individuals may also start clubs or host professional events where you can meet more professionals in your field.

Related: 10 Career Development Goals

20 career development opportunities

Here are 20 examples of career development opportunities and how they can benefit your professional growth:

1. Networking events

Networking events allow professionals within the same industry or other specialty areas to connect and build long-lasting professional relationships. The people you meet at these events could help you later on by acting as references to employers or offering you unique job opportunities.

2. Professional networking groups or organizations

There are a variety of professional networking groups or organizations for different industries and job specialties. These organizations provide professionals with industry updates, recent job openings and networking opportunities.

3. Bachelor's or master's degree programs

Consider earning a bachelor's degree or a master's degree to enhance your qualifications and eligibility for advanced career opportunities. You can also speak with your current employer to see if they can help you with the costs.

4. Industry training courses

Industry practices constantly evolve and up-and-coming trends have a significant influence on business decisions. For this reason, it's imperative that you take training courses to maintain your industry knowledge and market yourself as a well-read professional.

5. Job assignments

At one point or another, an employer may provide you with the opportunity to complete a job assignment in a different city, state or country. This allows you to travel to new places and expand your professional connections. This time away from your usual job environment may also give you time to reflect on your career goals and your current position with your employer.

6. Industry conferences

Industry conferences allow professionals to connect at a local, state or national scale. You may have the opportunity to attend a conference on behalf of your company, but you can also purchase a ticket in certain cases. At conferences, you typically attend presentations, participate in seminars or meetings and browse corporate booths to meet other professionals. Here, you can learn about other employers, certification programs and other industry specialties you didn't know about before.

7. Mentorships

Mentors provide valuable industry insights to help you develop your career. They can also connect you with potential employers and encourage you to challenge yourself. When looking for a mentorship figure, choose someone whose values, career success and personality reflect those you want to embody throughout your professional development. You can select a mentor at your workplace or select someone you met at a networking event.

8. Internships

You can take advantage of internships whether you're beginning your career or looking to pursue another career field. In some situations, employers may provide paid internships or offer part-time internships so interns can work simultaneously. Internships allow you to explore different jobs and decide whether you want to pursue them further.

9. Job shadowing

Job shadowing is when an employee observes someone's job duties in a different department at a company. Job shadowing allows you to explore other job positions and specialty areas to determine whether you want to continue growing in your current area of specialty or pursue another.

10. Informational interviews

Informational interviews take place between one professional and another with the aim of one professional learning more about the other's career moves and current job. Typically these take place over the phone or in a casual setting like a cafe or restaurant. You can participate in informational interviews with more experienced professionals you follow on professional networking sites or that you met at networking events. During these interviews, you can ask them what their typical day is like in their job and what they would suggest for someone looking to achieve the same role.

11. Internal promotions

An internal promotion is when you achieve a more senior position with your current employer. Internal promotional opportunities give you the opportunity to advance to the next level in your career while remaining in a familiar work environment. Future employers may be more interested in you as a candidate because they see how your previous employer invested in your talents.

12. Presentations

Regardless of your job field, an employer might expect you to present data and other findings in department or company-wide meetings. Use these presentation experiences as opportunities to show your employer your ability to deliver presentations in a comprehensive manner. If company officials are impressed with your work and disposition, this could help you achieve internal promotions or additional responsibilities.

13. Professional awards

Whether you completed a professional research project as a part of your job or took the initiative to lead your own project, you can submit your work to professional associations and potentially receive awards for your work. It helps your career development by making your name more visible within a professional community at a local, state or national scale. It also helps you amplify your resume.

14. Career coaching

If you think you need professional help to create a career plan, a career coach or career consultant can provide sound advice and act as an advocate for your success. During sessions with them, you have the opportunity to talk about your career aspirations, review your resume and cover letter and identify one or more goals you need to achieve to qualify for a position.

15. Skill advancement certifications

To aid your career development, you should always look for ways to advance your professional knowledge in an area you want to improve. This could include interpersonal skills like verbal communication, public speaking, active listening, teamwork or leadership, or technical skills like project management and software proficiency. You can obtain certifications in one or more of these skill areas by attending certification courses online or in-person.

16. Performance reviews

Performance reviews allow employees to see what they do well and what they need to work on. You can use your performance review to speak with your employer about your skills and whether you're ready for a more leadership role. You should make sure to get a copy of your performance review, if possible, so you can develop a plan to improve your technical and interpersonal traits.

17. Lateral career moves

A lateral career move is when you pursue the same job position you currently hold but at a different company. There are several reasons why professionals make lateral career moves. These could include a lack of internal promotions at their company, a desire to work the same job for a higher pay grade or a difference between company values and their own. You can use a lateral career change to gain more experience in a particular role or give yourself a better chance at achieving a more senior role over time.

18. Switching career fields

In contrast to lateral career moves, you may also find it helpful for your career development to switch career fields entirely. One example of this would be if you worked as an elementary school teacher and switched to education administration, or if you worked as an accountant but wanted to go into marketing. It might seem scary or impossible to acquire a job in a different area or industry. Still, through additional education, certifications or internships, you have the ability to start a new career in an area that aligns with your interests.

19. Self-awareness training

Self-awareness is the process by which individuals understand themselves, their habits, learning styles and the way they interact with others. There are various self-awareness training courses and assessments available online that teach you more about your habits and how to evaluate them. By understanding how you thrive in a professional environment, you can identify areas for improvement and develop strategies for learning new skills or adapting to new job environments.

20. Getting laid off

Believe it or not, getting let-go or furloughed from a company can actually be a great way to reevaluate your career aspirations, your strengths or weaknesses and your work environment preferences. It also pushes you to go after another job or pursue a more senior role when you wouldn't have otherwise.

Explore more articles