6 Ways to Use Your Professional Development Stipend

by Justin Schmidt March 16th, 2023

One of the hallmarks of a great workplace is a culture of continuous learning. When employees regularly and proactively seek out knowledge, not only does it enhance their own skill set, it can lead to new ideas, improved problem solving abilities, and ultimately, improved business outcomes. In other words, a workforce that’s constantly upskilling and learning is a serious competitive advantage. 

If you’re interested in fostering your team’s professional development, a professional development stipend can help you do just that. Professional development stipends are a fantastic way to give employees the freedom to choose what they need to evolve in their careers–since every job and every department is different, the flexibility of a stipend helps HR teams accommodate their organization’s diverse needs. 

Yet, despite the advantages of this popular employee benefit, many employees struggle with concrete ways to use it. In this article, we'll go over six ways our very own team here at Compt uses their professional development stipend, because: 1) we like to lead by example and 2) we love stipends, of course!

1. Attend Conferences, Seminars, or Webinars

Joining a conference, seminar, or a webinar allows you to fully immerse yourself in your chosen community, whether you want to be surrounded by engineering wizards, HR visionaries, accounting pros, or marketing gurus. These settings present so many opportunities for networking and can be especially beneficial for smaller teams, which are more likely to have “departments of one.” 

Depending on the flexibility of the program you create, a stipend can be applied towards: 

  • professional membership fees
  • travel expenses associated with attending a conference
  • conference registration fees
  • supplies needed to participate in a workshop

Compt’s Founder and CEO, Amy Spurling, talks about how she uses her stipend: 

"I used our stipend to attend a professional meetup for HR professionals. It’s always great to talk shop with fellow HR leaders and form valuable connections within the industry. Some of the people I’ve met have contributed their unique insights to our content and a few have even referred customers!"

-Amy Spurling, Founder and CEO

Our Vice President of Finance, Megan Dunn, used her stipend to attend a virtual webinar hosted by the CFO Leadership Council.

“I used my professional development stipend to attend a fascinating webinar led by Andy Fastow, whose tenure at Enron is a cautionary tale in business ethics. Ethical excellence is a central priority for out organization and this benefit helps reinforce that by providing an opportunity to draw on wisdom from others in the field.”

-Megan Dunn, VP of Finance

2. Hire a Career Coach

Career coaches can help employees develop managerial skills, minimize burnout, and address many other common challenges that professionals deal with today.  

A coach provides the support and accountability that keeps you on track and ensures you meet your development goals, whether your employees are getting ready to assume a role with more responsibility or they’re simply looking to improve in their current role. 

Our CMO, Sarah Bedrick, has relied on coaches to help her achieve her potential: 

“Earlier in my career, after months of feeling stuck, I decided to take a bold step and invest in myself by hiring a coach. Little did I know, it would be a decision that would change the trajectory of my career.
With the guidance and support of my coach, I embarked on a journey of self-discovery, uncovering my strengths, passions, and untapped potential. I gained clarity on my career goals and developed a roadmap to achieve them. All of this was made possible because of Compt’s professional development stipend.”

-Sarah Bedrick, CMO

3. Buy Career-Related Books

Employees can use professional development stipends to buy books related to general career development or industry-specific knowledge.

Our Head of Customer Success, Mary Migiano, recently used her stipend to purchase a slew of books from Amazon.

“During insightful discussions about career growth, my manager suggested several business books tailored to my interests, like Shoe Dog and Good to Great by Jim Collins. These books will remain on my bookshelf for years to come!"

-Mary Migiano, Head of Customer Success

Our Head of Engineering, Francisco Calderon, also used his stipend to purchase books on management. 

“Professional development isn't just about gaining new technical skills; it's about evolving as a leader. Through my professional development stipend, I've been able to purchase  books like “Engineering Management for the Rest of Us” and 'The Coaching Habit' to deepen my understanding of effective leadership and engineering management.”

-Francisco Calderon, Head of Engineering

Even a small quarterly stipend can go a long way toward showing your employees you care about their continued development.

4. Join an Improv Class

Even if your job doesn't involve working as a standup comic, there are so many tremendous benefits that come from improv skills such as communication, collaboration, and adaptability. 

Compt’s Head of Brand, Lauren Schneider, used her professional development stipend for an improv class at Happy Valley Improv.

“Initially, I was unsure of what to expect but it’s amazing to see just how much I could apply the skills learned in improv classes to my work. With improv, there's no script to follow, no predetermined lines to recite. Instead, you're challenged to think on your feet, adapt to unexpected situations, and communicate clearly with others—this comes in handy in a number of ways, such as when I host our show 'Getting Personal with Compt'!"

-Lauren Schneider, Head of Brand and Communications

5. Subscribe to a Newsletter or Industry Trade Publication

Subscribing to a paid newsletter offers individuals a direct pipeline to curated, high-quality content tailored to their professional interests. Unlike free resources, paid newsletters often feature exclusive insights, expert analysis, and in-depth research, providing subscribers with a competitive edge in their field. 

Many people find daily or weekly newsletters to be beneficial as the information is packaged in bite-sized pieces by thought leaders in their industry. 

Our VP of Product and Operations stays up to date with trends in Product this way: 

“I used my stipend to purchase a subscription to Lenny's Newsletter–it's a weekly product newsletter that I love! They share lots of valuable insights from product/engineering leaders all around–many of the learnings I’ve applied to our work here at Compt.” 

-Joe Alim, VP of Product and Ops

6. Take a Course or Workshop

The great thing about a stipend is employees aren't limited to the vendors within their geographic area. This is especially advantageous if your team is remote.

You can take a virtual course, an in-person course at a community college–the options are truly limitless. 

Divya Laul, our Senior Manager of Go To Market Content, has used her stipend for courses from the Product Marketing Alliance

“Utilizing my stipend to enroll in the Advanced Product Marketing Certified course has been a game-changer for me. This investment not only deepened my expertise in product marketing but also equipped me with both the tactics and overarching strategy to help me achieve the best results when I’m crafting content.”

-Divya Laul, Senior Manager of GTM Content Marketing

Manage your stipend program with Compt

Compt's employee stipend platform allows you to create a customized benefit program where you can leverage any combination of our 27 categories, including professional development.

If you wanted to drive home the importance of education even further, you could expand your stipend program to include a student loan repayment category. Or, if you wanted to promote a separate core value like balance, a health and wellness stipend could be an option. (And by the way, Compt takes care of tax compliance for you!)

Interested in creating a custom stipend program with high utilization? Request a demo to speak with our team and learn more. 

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