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Professional development gets personal

A name change reflects a new way to grow holistically at MSU Denver – plus resources available for you to get started.

By Cory Phare

August 23, 2018

MSU Denver signLearning and Development is the new name for the place to engage and build skills at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

The shift from being under the umbrella of “professional development” more accurately reflects the Human Resources area’s focus on advancing the whole person, said Danielle Farrell, manager of learning and development.

“You can’t separate what matters to you in your personal life from your professional life – and vice versa,” she said. “Your skills, knowledge, background and mood all inform one another; people bring that with them to work, and we want to support their growth in all those areas.”

In addition to the launch of a more streamlined website, L&D will begin introducing a series of track-based offerings for participants to demonstrate a concentration in a specific area.

It’s part of the area’s comprehensive approach to whole-person development. To kick this off at the individual level, Farrell suggested a systematic methodology.

“Look at where you’re at now and where you want to be,” she said. “Then take an honest look at your gaps – what are hiring personnel looking for in the job descriptions you’re interested in? What are the specific words missing on your résumé?”

Once those things are identified, she recommended using resources including professional organizations/associations, networking via specialized LinkedIn/meetup groups, conferences and more education.

“Informational interviews are also helpful to learn more,” she added. “People are often happy to share knowledge about what they do. You don’t know until you ask.”

 Other resources Farrell recommended include:

  • Various workshops and trainings are listed on the University’s event calendar page. And keep your eye on your inbox for communication from HR about free development offerings; previous sessions have included those on mindfulness and meditation and personal financial wellness.
  • Each full-time employee who has been with the University for at least one year can apply for up to $750 of developmental funding annually. That money can be used for activities of the individual’s choosing, including conferences, seminars, trainings and courses. The funds function on a first-come, first-served basis, distributed in order of application.
  • is a great online resource, packed with videos and tutorials that help you hone your skills in a variety of areas. And better yet? It’s free to MSU Denver employees!
  • Various online trainings from Academic Impressions are also available to employees – see the bottom of this page for information on how to take advantage of the resource library and sign up for live sessions.
  • May’s annual Professional Development Conference was a huge success, drawing 472 attendees – an increase of 30.5 percent over the previous year. Farrell noted how important each person’s connection to passion is in our shared campuswide purpose of helping students and encouraged anyone interested in helping with next year to email her.
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