20 May 2024
by Dean Evans

CPD plans: time for reflection

Three years on from his article about approaching CPD more systematically, Dean Evans looks back at how his CPD plans have helped his career.

A lot has changed in the last three years. You don't need me to go into detail here, but it's fair to say many of us are finding the business environment much tougher at the moment.

Some things have not changed, though. High-quality translation and interpreting services are still very much in demand, and it's still paramount that we stand out as professionals. One of the major ways we can do this is by undertaking quality CPD.

With money a bit tight, it may be tempting to let CPD fall by the wayside. But having a solid CPD plan will help you find the right CPD to boost your career in the most efficient – i.e. cost-effective! – way.

Time for reflection

ITI advocates a five stage CPD cycle which starts with reflecting on where you are now and is the key to a successful CPD plan. So start by having a look over your CPD logs from the past year or two and consider what you've learnt.

Were there any activities, topics or formats that really worked for you? Were there any categories that didn't get as much attention? Was there anything you wanted to learn but didn't manage to, or a course that didn’t quite cover everything you were looking for?

You could also factor in experience from your day-to-day work. Think about any projects or events that highlighted a new learning opportunity.

From there you’ll be able to identify your CPD objectives and begin creating a CPD plan to help you achieve them. If you’re unsure where to start with writing your CPD plan, ITI has created a template that you can download and complete.

Here are a few examples from my CPD plans over the past three years.

Subject-specific knowledge.

This was a knowledge gap I'd identified in my 2021-22 plan – it was an area I'd let slip in favour of other activities, so it was time to brush up on developments in my industries.

I found a few suitable courses online in my specialist fields of electronics and electrical engineering and signed up to them in 2022.

I learnt a lot from most of them, but a bad experience with one reminded me of the importance of careful research when signing up for courses – I wasn't expecting a course on e-mobility to start with "In the beginning there was the wheel"!

Translation and language skills

These categories do always feature in my logs, but often with a more scattergun approach. I wanted to find a more consistent way of keeping my general translation skills sharp.

Enter revision club!

Since autumn 2022, two colleagues and I have been meeting on a monthly basis to tear each other's French to English translations apart (joking!).

We take it in turns to translate a text and give each other constructive feedback, and I've definitely learnt a lot. Mainly that I tend to come on a bit strong with my adjectives and am sometimes a bit too fast and loose when it comes to moving away from the source text. The fact that this CPD is free is just an added bonus!

As for language skills, I didn’t need a CPD review to tell me that I've really let my spoken German slip over the years.

I've known for a long time that I need to improve it if I'm to win my dream clients in my target market. So part of last year's plan was to finally get over the embarrassment and do something about it.

I started having weekly conversation classes with a local tutor in January and have already seen my fluency improve. Plus it's helped to highlight another gap – a lack of more general vocabulary. There's not much space for German patent terminology in everyday conversation!

Business skills

Business skills are always high on my CPD agenda. And the best CPD investment I've made has been Sarah Silva's Expedition Group.

I've sung the Expedition Group's praises many times now, but I do still need a bit of an extra push to actually put Sarah's teaching into practice, which is why part of my current plan is to work with a business mentor.

Our monthly meetings help keep me accountable and provide a bit of direction. Plus the perspective from an expert outside of translation/interpreting is invaluable – I would highly recommend it!

Keeping focus

Having a plan ready from the start of the CPD year will help you focus on your priorities for the year ahead and pinpoint the activities that will be most beneficial to your career.

Most importantly, remember to log your activities. ITI's CPD logging tool has space for you to add some brief notes on what you’ve learnt and how you found a particular course or webinar. Noting this down when it’s fresh in your mind will put you in good stead when it comes to reflecting on this year’s activities ready for next year's plan – it'll come around quickly!