11 Feb 2021 | The veterinary profession
Experiences outside the day job – the ‘cement’ of my career
27 Jan 2021 | Gudrun Ravetz
Vet Gudrun Ravetz explores the personal development opportunities she's had during her career and how they've led to transferable skills that support her professional development.
My short biography often reads Gudrun still does not really know what she wants to be when she grows up so is very thankful for the varied career and many opportunities the veterinary degree has given her. It is true that I have done a variety of different jobs which always sounds better when described as a portfolio career. But always, at the same time as my veterinary jobs I have also done lots of different things or had different experiences outside of my day job; undertaking a graduate diploma in law, various running, biking, or swimming challenges and most recently a basic construction course (my joinery is pretty awful, but I did build a reasonable small brick wall).
These personal developments outside of my veterinary day job may seem disjointed from my veterinary work but I would say that they have been more like a cement that held my veterinary career together and enhanced it. Personal development is often thought of as important if it relates to the content of the day job that we do. But development of the person is more than work related content.
For me stretching my brain with law allowed me to switch off from my veterinary work and engage it in something else. This kept me energised and enthused and gave me new skills, particularly communication which was directly applicable in my veterinary jobs. Development in my sports gave me a balance in my life that meant I was ready for any of the challenges that might happen in work. Trying a construction course has shown me humility, made me see you really need to practise at things to get better and given me a wider appreciation of other people’s skills, all transferable skills to any day job.
Recognition at work
While a veterinary workplace needs to prioritise the development most applicable to the day job it can be invaluable to recognise the interests and personal developments of employees that are outside the conventional day job. Recognising an employee’s commitment to other things and seeing the wider value that that can bring to the person and potentially the business is a powerful motivator.
We are, thankfully, becoming more aware of what motivates, satisfies, and retains people in work (see the BVAs motivation, satisfaction and retention report). We are finally understanding that people are happier and more productive at work if, amongst other things, they can be their authentic self, they are valued for who they are as a person and not just an employee, and if their life outside of work is as valued as that in work.
While a lot of this needs structural change, understanding and commitment from workplaces (see the BVA’s Good workplace resources for help) I believe that one simple thing that we can all do is look further than the employee and see the person. Recognising and celebrating their achievements and developments outside of work is empowering. Congratulating a colleague on an achievement outside of work shows you value and appreciate them as a whole person and not just their at work persona. Plus, this can often lead to wider business benefits from improving employee wellbeing to opening up engagement opportunities with wider parts of the community.
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