Begin with the bottom line
How you frame your request for education dollars is crucial. As an employee, it’s natural to view your company as a vehicle to help you grow your personal career goals. But the truth is, you’ll get better results if you start by asking: “What’s in it for my employer?”
Perhaps the best way to answer that question is by regularly meeting and setting goals with your manager.
“If you’re asked to do something on the job that you don’t feel you have the skills to succeed in, bring it up with your manager,” says Sarah Tran, a social media specialist at Toronto-based ad agency Skylar Media. “That’s a place where you can build a skill set.”
Tran and her colleague Katelyn Merza were hired by Skylar Media before the company underwent a period of growth that more than doubled its employee headcount. “As the agency’s first strategist, I used to wear a lot of hats,” said Merza. “My boss and I mapped out a direction for me based on where the agency was going. After that, it was easy to see why my training was valuable to the business—and to our clients.”
Tran and Merza pursued part-time digital marketing and strategy and planning bootcamps at Toronto’s Miami Ad School. The intensive 12-week training programs cost $7,500 and $9,000, respectively. According to Merza, it was money well spent. “I learned how different departments are structured at other agencies, and I learned what a strategy team at Skylar could look like,” she said. Her advice to others: “Come prepared with a list of benefits for your company. It’s hard for an employer to argue against that.”
Merza just graduated, but, as a result of her training, she already has a concrete plan for increasing Skylar’s revenue next year. “The project management techniques I learned are going to help me speed up internal processes, so we can spend less time on administration and more time on client work,” she said. In Merza’s case, the value of employer-funded training can literally be measured in billable hours.
Shop ahead of time
Of course, you’ll need to account for costs, not only benefits, to determine your return on investment. Another way to show your employer you’re serious about the bottom line is to present a variety of training options at different prices.
“In my written brief, I included the cost of the courses I wanted to take, plus a few other similar courses I could take at a lower cost,” says Nick May. To that, he added a list of discounts and special offers, like a $500 scholarship he qualified for at one of the learning institutions.