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Megan Sullivan
Megan Sullivan

Posted on • Updated on • Originally published at

Ways to Use Up Your Professional Development Budget


It's almost the end of 2020 (yay!), which means it's time to make sure you've used up all of your professional development (PD) budget for the year!

Out of ideas? Here's a list of some resources I've either used or added to my own wishlist. It's mostly geared toward my own interests: web development, accessibility, and education.

Leave a comment with links to where you like to splurge on learning resources!

Full disclosure: I don't have partnerships with any of these products, I just genuinely think they're neat!

👩‍🏫 Workshops and Courses

📚 Books

🔁 Subscriptions

  • Frontend Masters: Full-length video courses about a wide variety of web development topics. Good if you're looking for in-depth instruction.
  • Bite-sized videos with very practical steps. Good if you're looking for quick, example-driven explanations.
  • Deque University: A learning platform focused entirely on web accessibility and digital equality. They also have an entire course dedicated to preparing for the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP) certification.
  • Ness Labs: Neuroscience-based content about how your brain works and ways to maximize learning. A yearly membership gives you access to workshops, virtual meetups, and an online community.

Discussion (5)

michaeltharrington profile image
Michael Tharrington

All of these resources look awesome and very affordable! Thanks so much for sharing. 🙌

meganesulli profile image
Megan Sullivan Author

Thanks, glad it was helpful! Depending on how big a PD budget you get, I think it might be possible to buy them all 😂

190245 profile image
Comment marked as low quality/non-constructive by the community. View Code of Conduct
Dave • Edited on

I'm sorry, but there's two references to racism (antiracist and "you want to talk about race"), mixed in with things about being professional.

Any of my employees that request finance approval for things like that, out of the Professional Development budget get a flat rejection.

In my view, it's easy: treat everyone with respect, regardless of any personal characteristics, and you can spend the budget on something else. Hell, buy yourself a Kindle to read ebooks with, you can use the budget for that!

Treating everyone with the basic respect of being a human is a damn good start to being professional. Failure to do that results in the person being on a Personal Improvement Plan, and failure to stick to that plan results in finding a job somewhere else.

Please lets not take recent social issues and make it "white people need to learn" - no, everyone needs to learn.

(And, for the record, yes, Black lives do matter. All lives matter, and yes I do appreciate that you have to start fixing the problem somewhere, and peaceful BLM related protests are a damn good place to start tackling some of societies issues).

meganesulli profile image
Megan Sullivan Author • Edited on

I'm disappointed that learning how to prioritize the safety of Black colleagues doesn't fall under your definition of "being professional." In my experience, I've never had any trouble expensing such materials, and I hope you reconsider.

Yes, treating everyone with basic respect is necessary for being professional. But that lowest-of-bars isn't being met everywhere, and that's the problem. Many non-Black people don't even realize that some daily micro-interactions that seem normal to them are actually harmful to the Black person on the other end. I would expect that learning how to treat colleagues with respect should fall within the purview of professional development.

And racism in the workplace extends beyond just person-to-person interactions. It's also about the systems in place that historically discriminate against Black people:

It's about discrimination in hiring practices ("Black-sounding" names not getting callbacks, even with qualifications identical to white candidates). It's about discrimination in performance reviews and promotions (Black employees needing to work harder than white colleagues to get the same recognition). It's about discrimination in wages (Black employees being paid less than white employees for doing the same kind of work).

If white people - who benefit from racist systems by design - don't learn about those systems and how to use their privilege and power to dismantle them, nothing will ever change. $30 for a book or an online course seems a more than fair price to pay to start making amends for hundreds of years of oppression.

If you (or anyone following along) are looking for a (free) way to learn, the Seeing White podcast series by Scene On Radio is an eye-opening place to start:

190245 profile image
Dave • Edited on

I'm disappointed that learning how to prioritize the safety of Black colleagues doesn't fall under your definition of "being professional."

If you re-read what I posted, maybe you'll realise that I prioritise the safety of all my colleagues equally, regardles of personal qualities such as skin colour, gender, mental health, etc etc.

The point I was making, is that without basic respect for the safety (both physical and mental) & well-being of all - and not just colleagues, but visitors and random members of the public, we have no hope of being professional.

As a result, any sensitivity type training, comes out of my HR budget, not my Professional Development budget.

And since I'm a manager, I promise you, I am aware of biases on multiple levels, including my own, and have the power to change policies/procedures such as how we do performance reviews / salary banding / hiring etc etc.

I'm also well versed in statistics, have access to an enormous amount of data about my employees work, and actually review things at the end of every Sprint. People get reduced to ID values, and any inefficiencies in the team, I apply training to all the team equally.

You might also note that I'm not the one talking in binary terms. I truly believe that we're all equal, not only in terms of the protection needed, but in the responsibility we all hold (and must be held accountable for).

Your opinion, seemingly, is that "white people need to be pulled down a peg or three" - I'm simply advocating that we all be pulled UP to the same average level (and yes, that means that in some cases, white people need to lose some ground in order to come to a sensible average... but that doesn't apply to all white people, much the same as there are some privileged people of colour).