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Professional Development

L&OD Extends Opportunity To Take Free Professional Development Classes

Online Learning

Learning and Organizational Development — the unit of University Human Resources that helps NC State employees achieve their professional development goals — has decided to continue to waive fees for most of its classes. The unit encourages employees to take advantage of this opportunity to take professional development courses for free.

L&OD began waiving fees for the majority of its courses in January 2021 due to the financial hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The unit charges fees for classes that require materials it has to buy.

You can take L&OD courses via Zoom. L&OD switched from offering only in-person classes to virtual classes in the spring of 2020 when NC State prohibited large indoor gatherings because of the pandemic. Virtual classes are now a permanent part of L&OD’s course delivery method.

L&OD’s decision to offer free and virtual classes made its classes more accessible to the NC State community, and as a result, class attendance in fiscal year 2020-21 increased 49% compared to 2019-20. That success is part of the reason why L&OD continues to offer free and virtual courses.

If you are looking to get ahead, if you’re looking to be more successful, the courses that L&OD offers at no charge are a great way to do it.

The switch to virtual classes has especially been beneficial for employees who don’t work in the Triangle. Those employees no longer have to worry about traveling to Raleigh for classes.

“We were behind as far as offering Zoom delivery,” said Stephanie Davis, L&OD’s assistant director. “We should have already been doing that, and we weren’t. COVID really forced us to do what we should have been doing.”

Before the pandemic, Pam Van Emden, the nutrition science undergraduate and graduate student coordinator for the Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences, had never taken a professional development course at NC State. She said she decided to do so after hearing about L&OD’s decision in 2021 to offer free classes.

“During the pandemic, if you have sat there and felt sorry for yourself, I don’t think that has been a wise choice,” Van Emden said. “I think the choice most people should have made was to use that time, if they had the capacity to, to figure out how to make themselves better or make someone else better. I chose to make myself better in hopes I could help others do the same.”

Van Emden said she has completed courses under two L&OD programs: the Leadership Education and Development Foundations program and the LEAD Advance program. Through both programs, she earned certificates, networked and built more confidence in her ability to fulfill her work responsibilities.

Van Emden said as word spreads that L&OD classes are still free and available via Zoom, she thinks other employees will make the same decision she made. She said she thinks that will be especially true for employees looking to advance in their careers.

“Can they use these courses to better themselves enough to substantially move up the career ladder here at NC state or anywhere else?” Van Emden asked. The answer, she said, is “absolutely. If you are looking to get ahead, if you’re looking to be more successful, the courses that L&OD offers at no charge are a great way to do it.”

Depending on the state of the pandemic in April, L&OD plans to offer some classes both virtually and in person. That’s because some employees prefer in-person classes, Davis said.

“When there is a break and you’re in person, you end up mingling and talking,” she said. “You network more in person. I think there are a lot of people who really enjoy that and thrive on that and need that interaction with people — like the extroverts and the ones who are very social.”

You can see which L&OD classes are available for free and via Zoom by visiting the unit’s LEAD website. L&OD created LEAD to help employees reach career goals and unlock their true leadership potential. Through LEAD, employees can earn certificates, participate in monthly challenges and more.