The Bangor Region Leadership Institute had been on my radar for quite some time. I knew several business acquaintances who had participated in the program and spoke highly of their experience. Many of these folks were people that I respected in the community and had enjoyed following as their careers evolved. It was clear that they had invested much time and effort into the making of their success.
My own career path has been rooted in the non-profit world where professional development opportunities are a luxury given the shoestring budgets most of us work within. It became apparent that if I wanted to grow as a professional, I would need to be prepared to invest in myself.
There is no lack of training opportunities these days. Conferences, workshops and on-line webinars are all readily available. It is a matter of choosing which format and which curriculum is right for what you are personally trying to achieve. Most of these opportunities offer quality technical training for very specific skills. But what about the intangible soft skills like networking and honing your own leadership style? These are not skills that can be taught or force-fed, they must be experienced. And to experience them, you must be prepared to place yourself in an environment that stretches you outside of your normal routine and personal comfort zone.
I am very grateful to the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce for creating just such an opportunity, but for also making it accessible to those who truly want to invest in their future and that of their community. Through the BRLI Scholarship Program, I was able to participate in the Class of 2013. The scholarship grants one-third of the cost of the program. The expectation is that the employer will provide a one-third commitment and the remaining one-third is to come from the participant. I love the message that this sends. We, the chamber – which is your community and your employer, are willing to invest in you if you are willing to invest in yourself.
The curriculum is loaded with tangible take-aways itself, but the surprise came from what I learned from my fellow classmates. Observing how others process information and the sharing of resources and mutual past experiences, made this learning opportunity incredibly unique. As a now proud alumnus of BRLI, I can assure you that it is worth the investment.
Melissa Huston is a graduate of the BRLI Class of 2013. She is the Northern Director of Philanthropy for Good Shepherd Food Bank, which serves as the hub of Maine’s hunger relief network.