Investing in ourselves: Protecting time for professional development

Every year during performance reviews, you can ask almost anyone in our office, and they will likely tell you one of their goals is to complete a certification or training. But the reality is, it can be extremely hard to get that done. When you have client work and life demands, it’s difficult to work the professional development that so many of us want – and need— into the week.

Enter: HodgesCon.

HodgesCon came about as a way to protect a single day on the calendar and pack it full of professional development learning. This isn’t just us teaching ourselves and each other over a lunch and learn (which we love doing). HodgesCon brought in partners and friends of the agency to give us a deep dive into some of the work we do every single day.

Here’s what our agenda looked like this year:

  • RVA Comedy taught our team how to hone our active listening skills and work together.
  • Addison Clark gave us the ins and outs of Google’s algorithm and SEO best practices.
  • Karnes Coffey taught us the basics of graphic design and led us through a Canva tutorial.
  • Katie Hill opened our eyes to the world of feedback – asking for and receiving it.
  • Liz Thompson (@iheartveggies) let us behind the scenes of how content creators make a living, and how they want to work with brands.
  • We tuned into a media relations webinar, which gave us data-backed insights to writing effective subject lines to reporters.
  • Mary Foley closed the day by helping us better talk about ourselves in new business and networking sessions.

In between all of that, we had a few subject matter experts chime in with micro-activities and conversations to help add additional Hodges context to material.

At the time of this posting, the current feedback from the agency is that 100% of folks want to do this again next year. By creating a space for our team to learn without the demands of status calls and assignments, we were able to focus on learning. We came away with new learning and understanding of our work and the work of our peers. On top of it all, we were able to do some team building with each other – something that doesn’t happen enough in our hybrid professional world.

My biggest takeaway? It turns out, our group has a hidden talent for improv, accents and characters. Should we be taking our talents to TikTok?

Casey Prentice

A self-proclaimed organizational junkie and data geek who confesses to a secret desire to be a professional organizer, Casey enjoys account management, writing, editing and digital content strategy. Her agency work has helped clients like Virginia’s Community Colleges, VCUarts and Swedish Match.

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