By Susan Otten

My year of serving as president of IABC Minnesota is coming to a close. While serving the communicators of our great state, I developed amazing friendships with fellow board members and added connections, from a variety of industries, to my network.

This year, IABC Minnesota worked with a myriad of volunteers to give back to the non-profit community at our sixth annual Gift of Communication event. We offered a full day of education with our second annual Convergence Summit. We hosted more than a dozen events, from networking to professional development and Masterminds meetings to Meet the Pros events for college students and recent graduates.

All this was great, but what really takes the cake (and I really like cake!) is the ongoing opportunity for professional development. We all lead busy lives with big jobs, active families and lots of ways to spend our time. And as much as we try, with the best intentions, continuous learning is a struggle. It’s not an easy task to keep up with our craft in a rapidly changing environment and with new technologies introduced almost daily.

When I graduated from the University of Minnesota, like many ambitious young professionals who couldn’t land a job, I started my masters in non-traditional education with an emphasis on lifelong learning. I was interested in understanding how and why adults learn. Unlike when we are kids and go to school without a choice, as adults we pursue knowledge for enjoyment, for example, learning to play the piano or painting with watercolors. We also pursue knowledge for improvement of self or others, such as learning skills to advance a career or advance a special purpose.

The IABC Minnesota Board is committed to offering a variety of professional development events to support this pursuit of knowledge. We offer programs at a variety of times to fit with busy schedules, such as Coffee & Connections before work, lunch and learns and evening discussion panels. Events are available for those beginning their communications careers and for experienced communications professionals.

Together we explore leading-edge topics; discovering and learning from each other. And, along this learning path you have the opportunity to get to know some amazing fellow communicators. Professionals who, without exception, are willing to help and share and support your quest for knowledge to get better at your craft.

My parting words of advice are to not sit back in your communications career. Take charge and take advantage of all IABC Minnesota has to offer. We are here to help you develop professional skills, knowledge and connections. I encourage you to look for opportunities to pursue your professional learning for both enjoyment and for improvement.

You, our profession and our world will be better for it!

Susan Otten is the 2016-2017 president of IABC Minnesota and Chief Operating Officer for VITAL WorkLife.