14 May 2021

How to adopt a more systematic approach to your CPD

With the CPD year for ITI members starting this month, Dean Evans explains why it's time to be more systematic with your CPD and how a plan can help.

I’ll be honest. In the three years or so since I started freelancing I haven’t done much in the way of CPD planning. My approach has been somewhat more passive, waiting to see what workshops or webinars were out there and signing up if I thought they might be useful.

But with the explosion of free online CPD over the past year – not to mention more frequent quiet periods – I realised I was signing up to some events just for the sake of it. Cue an uncomfortable couple of hours on Zoom with just ten other attendees listening to a talk on intellectual property (IP) that was way over my head… I was clocking up the hours, but was this the best use of my time?

As the world started to open up again and my inbox gradually got busier, I had less time for CPD and realised I needed to take a more systematic approach. So earlier this year I worked out my first plan for the next 12 months and beyond. And now that the new ITI CPD year has begun, it’s the perfect time to work on yours too.

Plan, Do, Review

The key to a successful CPD plan is the review. Look back over your CPD log for the previous year. Are there any courses that really worked for you, or was there anything you didn’t particularly enjoy? From logging my CPD over the past couple of years, I know that the best events for me have a practical and (dare I say it) face-to-face element rather than self-paced courses. So my ideal training will always involve exercises and direct feedback.

Reviewing your CPD record can also highlight any potential knowledge gaps. Think about areas you’d like to work on. This will point you in the right direction for future training and help you set your goals. Maybe you want to brush up on your language skills or master a particular CAT tool. Or perhaps you’ve noticed an uptick in a particular field recently and some extra training in that area would come in handy.

Whatever your aims, having a focused, comprehensive plan will help you sort through the huge amount of training on offer and pinpoint the most beneficial courses for your career.

My review of 2020-21 highlighted some areas for development. Most notably, the volume of non-native editing work I’m receiving from my clients has gone up significantly, so some CPD in this area would ensure I’m able to keep my quality up in the long term.

One area that had fallen by the wayside for me was subject-specific knowledge. I’m a patent translator, working mainly with electronics and electrical engineering. I’ve done plenty of CPD focused on patents and IP, but my review showed that it had been a while since I’d sat down and brushed up on the technologies I’m actually translating. So there’s another area for me to focus on.

Find activities to achieve your CPD goals

Once you’ve got your goals and plan written down (I found a good example plan to adapt at e-learning bakery), it’s time to start finding activities. The ITI and its Networks offer a huge array of CPD, which you can find in the Events calendar on the ITI website. Or you could look further afield to other providers, perhaps on the industry side in your specialist area.

With my plan in place, the first activity I did this year was Karen Tkaczyk’s brilliant Editing and Proofreading course (completed in April). And in July I’ll be taking Joy Burrough-Boenisch’s ITI workshop on source language interference. These two courses will ensure I consistently deliver polished written English, not influenced by the texts non-native speaker authors.

As for subject knowledge, my work at the moment is heavily influenced by the transition towards a greener world. For instance, I’m sent lots of patents in areas such as robotics, fuel cells, wireless charging and electric vehicles. So these are what I’ll be concentrating on. I’m currently on the lookout for any online courses that would be beneficial – feel free to get in touch if you have any recommendations!

Don't forget to log your activities 

Once you’re armed with your goals, plan and activities, there’s only one thing left to do, and that’s “Do”! As you work through your CPD this year, log it in the ITI’s shiny new logging tool while it’s fresh in your mind. Note down what you’ve learned and what you thought of a particular course or webinar. That way, you’ll have a great idea of what to focus on when planning this time next year.

Of course, there’s nothing to stop you signing up to some CPD that looks interesting but isn’t necessarily part of your plan. You still might learn something new, or it might lead to other opportunities. And if it doesn’t, at least you’ll have some great material for next year’s review.

About the writer
Dean Evans

Dean Evans MITI is a freelance translator working from German, Spanish and French to English. A patents and IP specialist, he provides translation and editing services to intellectual property (IP) law firms, international patent organisations and specialist translation agencies. He is a member of the ITI's Professional Development Committee and is Coordinator of the ITI French Network.

Dean's website is Dean Evans Translations and you can also find him on Twitter and LinkedIn.