Magazine article Training & Development

Back to School for College Training Opportunities

Magazine article Training & Development

Back to School for College Training Opportunities

Article excerpt

You're a trainer looking for some extra work to supplement your income. Or you're new to the training field and looking to gain experience and hone your skills. Or maybe you're a consultant looking for part-time training opportunities to fill in gaps between jobs.

You may need to look only as far as your local community college for such opportunities. Community and junior colleges are prime markets for short-term trainers. Though they employ full-time and part-time faculty, community colleges often need outside instructors.

Opportunities are especially good in continuing education programs. Professionals from the community teach most life-enhancement and leisure time classes. Short-term trainers - those who work on short-term assignments - also conduct workshops, seminars, conferences, and contracted training programs for businesses, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies.

For six years, I have worked with short-term trainers at the Small Business Development Center of Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon. The center delivers business training to small business owners. I conduct 15 to 20 workshops and conferences a year. For each activity, I enlist short-term trainers.

The opportunities are there, but how do you take advantage of these short-term job opportunities? How do you secure assignments from people like me?

Know your market

First, do your homework. Learn all you can about the community college, its programs, and the needs of its clients. You can learn what training a college provides by reading its promotional materials and class schedules.

For example, I once had to turn down a trainer's proposal for a workshop on how workers can get along better with their supervisors. Had the trainer bothered to do some basic market research, he would have discovered that my workshops are for the employer, not the employee.

To learn the training needs of small businesses, you must conduct basic market research. Read trade journals to discover current issues. Talk with business owners about their needs. Visit trade associations to learn about industry concerns.

Dave Oatman, director of the Customized Training Department at Lane Community College, views market research as a prerequisite.

"It's worthwhile for a trainer who wants to work with a particular industry to get to know that industry," he says. "Learn what's successful in that industry and what's not. Learn the issues and trends. Study the corporate culture. That's really helpful for a trainer to know, in terms of how the trainer is going to communicate in the training activity."

Jane Scheidecker, director of the Small Business Development Center at Lane Community College, believes market research is a way to serve clients.

"When conducting market research," she says, trainers "can look at two options. They can look at offering the kind of training we offer and propose a workshop that relates to what we've been doing. Or they can say, |There seems to be a gap here,' and then propose what is missing in our lineup."

Making contact

Don't make cold calls. Community college leaders are too busy to be interrupted by sales pitches, no matter how warm and cheery they are. A cold call is an inconvenience to most people.

Instead, send a short letter of introduction and a brief outline of the training you are proposing. Address the letter to a person, not a job title. I'm impressed by trainers who make the effort to find out who I am and how to spell my name.

Include in your outline the title and length of the training, the goals and objectives, and the audience for whom the training is intended. References, photographs, and newspaper clippings extolling your past performances are extraneous. Save the back-up material for an interview. People don't have time to read through those stacks of supporting documents. …

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