We welcome back A’shanti Tyson, guest writer for our blog. If you have been following us for a while, you may remember A’shanti from her 2015 article co-written with her husband Maurice Tyson, “3 Steps to Keeping Sane While Working & Raising Amazing Kids.”
She had the opportunity to interview Nike’ Basurto, 2016 winner of the Deb Colky Award. Thank you Ms. Tyson for your continued contributions and support.
A’shanti Tyson: What attracted you to the Learning and Development profession?
Nike’ Basurto, CAE: I’ve always enjoyed working in the nonprofit sector. I never really planned my career, when the grant ended in my current position, I would find something else interesting until that grant ended. The last 3 or 4 jobs I had involved a learning and development component; although at the time I didn’t know it was actually a field of study. At one point in my career, I had the opportunity to take some time to really think about my next career move.
I worked with a job coach and discovered that learning and development was something I did well and was passionate about. What I’ve learned since is that the L & D profession involves analysis, strategy, creativity and a systemic perspective. What I do positively impacts and helps organizations and people.
A’shanti Tyson: How did your career path begin?
Nike’ Basurto, CAE: Pretty much every position I’ve had involved developing learning in some capacity, but it wasn’t necessarily the core responsibility of the position. ATD calls this type of trainer an “accidental trainer”. I used a lot of intuition and knowledge of the learners to develop trainings. For example, I oversaw volunteerism at the Jazz Institute of Chicago and developed a special events training for volunteers that is still being used to this day.
Volunteerism was a big part of the organization, yet there was no formal training for the volunteers. I recognized the volume and value of the volunteers and realized the importance of them being properly trained. Moving forward, I had a friend in the Organization and Development program at Roosevelt University who told me about a graduate assistant positon that was available. I was able to secure the position, which allowed me to attend school full-time and also provided me with an opportunity learn from and with amazing L & D and OD professionals.
A’shanti Tyson: Why did you decide to apply for the Deb Colky Award?
Nike’ Basurto, CAE: A month before I started the MATD program, I met a man named Howard Prager, while volunteering at the Chicago Jazz Festival. We began to discuss careers and Howard happened to work in the Learning and Development field and was active on the Association for Talent Development Chicago (ATDChi) board. During this short but meaningful conversation, Howard mentioned that I should apply for the Deb Colky Award. I was very skeptical. I wasn’t sure I had enough experience.
A similar situation occurred one year later when I was the facilitator for a Roosevelt University panel on learning and development. I met another person and during our brief conversation, this person also suggested that I apply for the Deb Colky Award. I stressed my concerns about being qualified. I had to ask, “What have I done?”. The person said “Go for it! I’m sure you’ve done more than you think.” They were correct. I began to review all of the learning opportunities I had developed throughout my career and I went for it!
A’shanti Tyson: So it seems like it was your destiny to be in this field. Although you weren’t planning your career, your work was taking you in a certain direction. You were heading down your path all along, you just weren’t aware.
Nike’ Basurto, CAE: You are correct. All of these things; my work experience, re-evaluating my career, these chance interactions, all confirmed that this was where I was supposed to be.
A’shanti Tyson: What impact has the Deb Colky Award had on you?
Nike’ Basurto, CAE: Working in this field I had heard Deb’s name before. So many people spoke highly of her. She was one of the first people to receive a Certified Professional in Learning & Performance (CPLP) Certification. She revamped the Training and Development program at Roosevelt University. It is very human performance focused. They have professors that are also practitioners. This is extremely valuable because you are learning from people who are actually out there doing the work. I have definitely benefited directly from this.
The day I accepted the award, Howard was there. After I spoke in front of the group, he approached me and congratulated me, but it was clear that he didn’t recognize me. I asked, “You don’t remember me?“. I began to explain our brief encounter and it immediately clicked. He remembered! Again, it was clear that I was on the right path.
A’shanti Tyson: What advice would you offer to future applicants?
Nike’ Basurto, CAE: I would encourage applicants not to be intimidated by the process. It seems like a lot information is being requested, but it really allows you to think and re-evaluate what you have done and why. Consider your past and what you want to do in the future. Think about how you can contribute to the community overall. Really research Dr. Colky. This award is not just about what you receive; it is also about developing a project that positively impacts ADTChi, so if you don’t have the time to give back you may want to reconsider applying. Even if you don’t win the award, you learn so much about yourself by applying. Most importantly, be yourself and be honest about who you are and why you do what you do. Don’t try to be to what you think the committee wants you to be. Whether it’s an award or a job,
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