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By Sally Smithwick, Health & Wellness Content Contributor

Being a part of the modern workforce requires versatility more than ever. And with rapidly evolving technology and more of an emphasis on social collaboration, even those who have been at the “top of their class” can sometimes feel unsure about certain skills when navigating their career. Fortunately, you have many accessible options when it comes to self-development and sharpening and learning new skills.

A 2022 report by Cengage Group revealed the reality of how unprepared college graduates feel when entering the workforce. Nearly half (49%) of recent grads said they did not apply for an entry level position because they felt under qualified. And in a 2020 report that surveyed managers and human resources departments, 55% of respondents believe there is a skills gap within their organization.

While you may have successfully completed requirements with degrees and certifications, being a corporate or store-based dietitian encompasses a wide range of responsibilities that often includes skills in marketing, writing and editing, communicating with the media, and using social media and digital tools to reach shoppers.

Here are five avenues for growing and learning  to help you succeed in your career path:

1. Seek out mentors or be a mentor. Is there someone in your network further along in their career than you are that you can learn from? Business mentors that you trust and respect can offer constructive feedback, experience and can help in decision making. Mentors can offer insights on what strategies have worked before and can also guide you when it comes to learning your company culture. And if you are in a position to mentor someone, you’ll improve your leadership skills and gain new perspectives while helping to build confidence in others.

2. Look for learning opportunities supported by your employer. Fifty-seven percent of business leaders believe that up-skilling or re-skilling their workforce is the best way to close skills gaps. Does your company offer compensation for courses? If not, there are many free online education tools available in the form of podcasts, YouTube videos, webinars, and simply by following experts on LinkedIn.

3. Attend conferences and be a part of professional communities. Working in the food industry is an exciting space with a plethora of opportunities. Conferences related to your industry whether virtual or in-person can be a great way to set aside time to explore new skills, broaden your knowledge, improve your communication skills by connecting with new people, and inspire new and creative strategies for your career. Don’t be afraid to approach your employer with these opportunities in case there’s a budget for travel and conference fees. A small investment can yield positive outcomes for the company when you bring back new skills, ideas and an expanded network to your role.

4. Pick something specific to work on. Do you feel under qualified when it comes to writing? Find an online business writing or storytelling workshop and dive into enhancing your communication skills. Are you intimidated by multi-media efforts or appearing on camera? Seek out opportunities to learn how to create video content that is not only on trend, but arms you with the confidence to reach your shoppers and the community on camera. Are you working in a community where a second language would enhance your ability to reach your shoppers? Get out that Duolingo app and spend a few minutes a day adding Spanish to your skill set.

5. Practice Self-Awareness. This may be one of the most important skills you keep in check to succeed as a leader. The ability to monitor your emotions and reactions and in addition, know your strengths and weaknesses will make you more adaptable, empathetic, patient and open to opportunities. You’ll be able to recognize when you need to ask for assistance and when you can confidently handle tasks on your own.

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