Professional Development

What professional skill will you hone in 2022?

Mindset shifts, NFT investing and technical certifications are leading these pros into a new year and (in some cases) new roles.

What's new for you in '22?

(Photo by cottonbro from Pexels)

Forget lofty and unattainable New Year’s resolutions. Instead, what’s a specific and relevant professional skill you hope to develop in 2022?

“Skill” doesn’t need to be technical, though it certainly might mean things like “learn Python” or “get that certification.” You might aim to become a more resilient manager or to set better work-life boundaries. “Do less” is valid. We all have something we want to get better at.

One of mine: I’m trying to learn to actually #worksmarternotharder, which means being more efficient with my working hours. I’m not great at sticking to my calendar for things that aren’t immediately necessary to tackle (like meetings). I want to be able to mark down “Get X task done from 11 to 11:30 a.m.” and know that I can actually get X task done in that time. If I can’t, it’s usually because other urgent things got in the way, or I didn’t allot enough time for said task. I’d like to get better at protecting the time I do have set, and am checking out some pomodoro method apps to start.

What’s yours? I asked the community the same question via our newsletters and Slack. Some of their responses may inspire your own changes. Here’s what a handful of you are trying to learn this year:

Learn the language

I have started a job as a technical program manager, and I’m doing my best at that job — but I’ve never been one before and I don’t really know what it means anywhere else or to anyone else to be a TPM. A goal for me for next year is to learn about the tools and tasks and methods and lessons, etc. that other TPMs know.

I’m looking to do that by talking to some of them! I don’t need to be or do the same as other TPMs, but I’d like to know what unknowns exist for me to explore and consider [such as] shared terminology to look up or talk to others about or organize my thinking.

My background is in engineering, so I can draw an analogy there: Not all engineers use the same test frameworks or types of testing, but understanding that there’s a realm out there that is about automated testing helps me to see what’s missing or good about my own practice, helps me link new concepts that belong in that domain to things I’m already familiar with.


Jean Lange, senior technical program manager for LendingHome (Pittsburgh)

New methods of investing

Investing in stock, art and NFTs. Modern Black Girl has a series of classes. Also, I joined Vitalize Angels. I like the idea of starting out with $1,000 investments.

Ayanna Smith, managing director at GET Cities (DC)

A mindset shift

I’m hoping to improve my growth mindset in 2022. As I’ve gained experience (and possibly become jaded by unhealthy corporate culture that does not lead to highly productive teams), I have found it challenging to think optimistically about myself and my future as well as my teams and their futures. I’ve made a conscious effort to refocus this year, and I’m hoping to continue shifting my mindset in 2022 as I see the value in teamwork, productive (and realistic) goal setting, and the impactful contributions of others.

Rachel Dierking, director at CapTech Ventures (Philly)

Technical certifications

I am hoping to pass Net+ and possibly CEH [Certified Ethical Hacker] this year. I have worked in digital for an NGO for a few years and decided during the pandemic to learn more about IT. I passed A+ and Sec+ last year and started an infosec degree. I decided to focus on A+ and Sec+ initially as they were good entry points into the more technical side of IT. My end goal is mostly personal knowledge and some professional capacity.

Mitch Merry, digital director for the Endangered Species Coalition (DC)

A new tune

I’m playing a lot of instruments in the orchestra of my life. Sometimes I want to reduce to a quartet. Sometimes I want an endless TikTok duet stream of people riffing on my beat. Sometimes I want to just … listen without playing anything. I spent my late 20s and early 30s working my butt off and I’m learning in my mid-30s that I’m more motivated by working with friends than chasing an individual goal individually.

Colin Dean, lead AI engineer for Target and managing director of Code & Supply (Pittsburgh)

Event expansion

I’m looking to grow the Waterfront Tech Series here in Baltimore with a powerful DEI event in April, and grow into DC with the help of the Waterfront Tech Membership for 2022. And to work smarter, not harder! I need to incorporate Slack skills in my day to day [for networking].

Laura Gaworecki, founder of the Waterfront Tech Series (Baltimore)

New job, new skills

I want to hone my leadership skills. I’m starting a new gig which is pretty different in 2022. And I’m going to get to use my leadership and mentoring skills much more. I’ve actually linked up with some people in a similar position but would always love more resources.

Rachel Davis, brand strategist and new chief of staff at Motto (San Antonio, Texas)

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