Highlights from TLDC’s Summer Community Day 2021

the words "career development" written on a chalkboard
This post shares highlights from the Training, Learning, and Development Community's Summer Community Day 2021, focused on career development.

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The Training, Learning, and Development Community keeps knocking it out of the park with their events. Summer Community Day was no exception, with nine sessions and an amazing line-up of speakers sharing their wisdom and experiences related to career development.

Cara North closed out her session (and the day) with three tips for keeping yourself at the center of your L&D career. Those tips echoed the ideas brought up by the other speakers throughout the day, so let’s look at each one.

Develop—and Trust—Yourself

Cara’s first tip was to develop yourself. I’m adding “trust” here, based on the themes of the day, as several speakers talked about overcoming Imposter Syndrome and learning to have confidence in themselves and their skills.

Shelley Brown kicked off the day by encouraging us to embrace our “weird,” being our authentic selves rather than focusing on fitting in.

“When you’re looking at the world as if it’s a clothing store for identity, nothing’s gonna fit.”

She encouraged us to trust ourselves, asking, “What is the worst that can happen if I try?” Other speakers echoed this sentiment. In the session I hosted on freelancing, all the panelists emphasized that we need to have confidence in ourselves and our skills. As Kim Scott said, we don’t have to have a perfect plan. It’s okay to let our L&D careers grow organically.

“You're ready before you think you are.”

The speakers acknowledged that we are often our own worst critics and that the only thing holding us back many times is our own self-doubt.

“We don’t have to be the impulse buyer of all of our thoughts.”

That is not to say that we should rest on our laurels thinking we have all the skills we’ll ever need. Cara discussed the importance of professional development, sharing the top skills employers are looking for, from her research. Because many instructional designers seek out programs to develop their skills, she shared ways to critically evaluate various instructional design academies, with questions to ask to cut through the hype.

Most of the speakers drove home the need for skill-building, continuous improvement, and lifelong learning—which brings me to the next tip.

Stay Curious

Cara’s second tip for keeping YOU at the center of your L&D career was to say curious.

Kim Lindsey, who spoke about being omni-generational, encouraged us to make curiosity and a sense of adventure a personal priority.

“We need to leverage our experiences but not be boxed in by them.”

She reminded us that we can learn from our colleagues of all ages—not only those with years of experience, but also those who are young or just starting out in the profession. Everyone brings something unique to the table, and when we focus on our commonalities and respect each other’s viewpoints and experiences, we are stronger for it.

“Diversity on a project team is a superpower.”

Mike Jones shared skill-building strategies, warning against “pancake knowledge” and knowing enough “to be dangerous.” He encouraged us to instead focus on knowing enough “to be proficient.” His advice to focus on long-term skills—getting out of our comfort zones—echoed Nicole Papaioannou Lugara’s advice to take on stretch assignments that allow us to always keep learning and growing.

“Know your own worth, and don’t let intimidation stop you from taking opportunities that are a bit of a stretch.”

Mike also encouraged us to seek out and welcome critical feedback, because that’s the input that will really help us grow. Likewise, as Heidi Kirby shared in her session, we can grow and learn from failures. She encouraged us to look at what failure can teach us about our personality and strengths. Above all, she urged us to show ourselves compassion—as we would with a friend who has experienced a setback.

“Failure shows our success.”

Staying curious means cultivating a mindset of continuous improvement and learning. As Christine Duguay shared, most people want to learn and grow. One way to foster a culture of learning in the workplace is through effective orientation programs. Christine shared some best practices for onboarding employees and reminded us of the importance of building trust and establishing a bond with new hires from Day 1.

“The road to growth begins with discovery: discovery of self, and discovery of others.”

Set Goals

Cara’s final tip was to set goals. Other speakers shared ways to find your niche, focus your resume, or establish a business—targeting your L&D career goals to be exactly where you want to be.

Sarah Cannistra gave specific tips and advice for finding our place in L&D and discovering the niche we are best suited for. As she put it, her approach does away with the “throwing spaghetti at the wall” method to find exactly those roles that interest and excite us.

“You can do everything you want to do.”

Rubina Halwani and Quetzalcoatl Cortes echoed Sarah’s focused approach to the job search. Rubina pointed out that it’s a job seeker’s market and encouraged us to use a dating-app method for narrowing down which jobs to apply for. Her advice was that if the job announcement doesn’t feel right, just swipe left. (Figuratively speaking, anyway.)

Rubina also shared tips for using a backwards design approach to creating your resume—beginning with the keywords in the job announcement and building the resume from there. Rubina walked through some example resumes, sharing how they succeeded (or did not) at using word choices that were tailored for the job announcement.

“Never feel intimidated. … Never feel like you don’t have an equal hand or even an upper hand. You are talent they need.”

Rubina’s advice brought to mind Christy Tucker’s reminder that what gives us job security is our skills, and that we should embrace an abundance mindset. There is plenty of L&D work out there, so we can—as Kim Scott said—choose those jobs where we can add value.


As with other TLDC events, Summer Community Day was full of fantastic insights and advice. Many, many thanks to Luis Malbas for providing us with such a wonderful community. If you’re not a member yet, I strongly recommend joining. It’s a great value.

Below is a list of the day’s nine sessions, which focused on career development. The recordings will be available for a limited time, after which they will be placed in the TLDC Member archives. I encourage you to watch them when you can. 


I’ve gathered a list of resources that were shared throughout the day (including in virtual table discussions I attended), as well as links to the speakers’ websites or LinkedIn profiles.

If I missed any resources from Summer Community Day, please share them in the comments!


As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn a small amount if you choose to purchase a book from the above links. This does not affect the price you pay and helps to support this blog.


Portfolio Examples

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Speakers' Websites

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