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Give the Gift of Professional Development

Holiday shopping for young professionals can be tricky. This holiday season, take a step back and ask yourself “what gift would a young professional really benefit from?”

How about the gift of professional development? If you’re a young professional, you can even treat yourself to this gift!

You might think I’m kidding, but let’s be honest… we’re more than willing to drop a few dollars on ourselves during the holiday season for that “had to have it” pair of shoes, headphones, you name it. The idea of “treat yo self” (shout out to Parks and Rec fans) is by no means foreign to us. If you’re going to spend the money anyway, why not spend it investing in yourself and your future?

Like investing in stock, you want to do your research. Consider exactly how you should invest in yourself. What does it look like? What’s the return on your investment? It’s important that you find the right fit for you so that you are more likely to use your investment and see the difference.

Plus, it should be something you will enjoy! Think about professional development as a way to meet new people, check off a New Year’s resolution, and get ahead personally and professionally.

Here’s what the gift of professional development can look like:

  • A really good book. While Amazon might not have specific professional development program offerings, they do a have a number of highly rated professional development books. It’s the perfect time of year to cozy up with a good book. Maybe you can even start or join a book club. Not sure where to begin? Try “The Power of Onlyness” by Nilofer Merchant. It’s a great read on how to find and capitalize upon your unique talent.
  • Take a class. If you’re thinking this will be expensive, don’t worry—it doesn’t have to be. From community classes, to higher education offerings, to online certificate seminars, there are many options to build or develop a new skill that will help you now and in the future. Be sure to ask your boss about whether your company provides funding or reimbursement for professional development classes.
  • As the saying goes, you usually get much more than you give. If you have a skill and are willing to share some time and talent, find an organization in the region and pitch in. This is a great way to meet new people and stand out professionally. You can find a list of volunteer opportunities throughout Western New York here.
  • Get Involved. There are dozens of professional and leadership development groups in Buffalo Niagara. These are groups of people who all want to meet new other new people, who have common interests and ambitions, and who want to learn and grow professionally. Wondering what groups are active in the Buffalo Niagara region? Download the Young Professionals Guide to Networking and Development.


Consider skipping that online/in-store splurge purchase and get yourself or a young professional in your life a gift that really matters and that will serve you well throughout your career.

Check out some of the professional development programs offered by the Buffalo Niagara Partnership.

Leader Exchange is a peer to peer, program designed for developing leaders who have an interest in honing their skills and learning how to navigate business and industry in Buffalo Niagara.

Executive Exchange is a unique peer-to-peer, professional/leadership development program for senior business leaders to meet, share experiences and resolve business challenges in a comfortable and confidential setting.

BN360, WNY’s premier young professional development organization aims to create an inclusive and collaborative network of resources that can empower talented individuals to achieve their goals for professional growth and success. 

Written by BN360


BN360 is the region’s premier young professionals program. Through a variety of programs and events, BN360 focuses on the tenets of: connect, develop, and empower—creating an inclusive and collaborative network of resources that can empower talented individuals to achieve their goals for professional growth and success. BN360 is a program of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership.

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