March 21, 2019 / Ina Xhani

Roadmaps for Professional Progress

My freshman year in college I wasn’t certain of many things, but of one thing I was 100 percent sure: I wanted to major in journalism. Within my first month on campus, I had already mapped out which classes to take and identified the teachers to stay away from and those whose classes I should fight for tooth and nail. I even knew which TV station I wanted to work for.

On paper, this all sounds nice. I sound like I was a girl with a plan.

But as I was preparing for my first internship, three years after setting foot on campus, I discovered that I was a girl with an outdated plan. Sure, I was good at editing videos, reading reports from city hall, and paying attention to the police scanner, but so was everyone else in my graduating class. I was about to enter the work force lacking skills and capacities that would set me apart from my peers. I learned the hard way that learning goes beyond the classroom and that skills that might sound unusual for your profession one day will be very useful.

I thought of the naïve me earlier this month as I was reading through two documents recently released by AIHA: the EHS Generalist White Paper (PDF) and the IH Professional Pathway eGuide (PDF). And a question popped into my head: were similar assets available to me when I was in college and I missed them because I was too focused on the school curriculum?

The two documents offer powerful insights for anyone looking to get their foot through the door or advance their career.

The EHS white paper explores the future of environmental health and safety professionals. Developed as a result of a survey conducted by AIHA in cooperation with the American Board of Industrial Hygiene and the National Association for Environmental Management, the white paper focuses on the hiring requirements and expectations from stakeholders for recent graduates with EHS generalist degrees. The white paper emphasizes the unique skill sets needed to perform EHS generalist jobs as well as the entry-level opportunities available to them. According to the survey, some of the most desirable skills employers seek for EHS generalist positions are in communications: the ability to influence others, train workers, present information to nontechnical staff, and write technical briefs for different audiences.

The IH Professional Pathway eGuide provides industrial and occupational hygienists with recommendations on how to advance their careers. It highlights educational resources appropriate by career stage, offers a summary of allied professionals with whom the IH/OH professional may work, and encourages and supports the attainment of credentials such as certifications and registrations. The IH Professional Pathway eGuide offers practical suggestions on how IH/OH professionals can advance their careers. The eGuide’s advice aligns with three different "tracks": technical, management, and leadership.

Apart from being resourceful roadmaps for the IH profession, these two documents attest to AIHA’s commitment to help current IH/OHs strengthen their skills and advance their careers, and help prepare future generations of IH/OHs. As someone who entered the work force without a clear plan, I cannot stress enough the importance of these two elements: a roadmap and an association dedicated to your progress. I encourage you to download the documents today and share them with your colleagues.

Ina Xhani

Ina Xhani is AIHA’s communications specialist.


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