Sunday, August 4, 2013

Pro Gen Study Group

This Sunday afternoon I participated in the final chat of my Pro Gen Study Group. For the last 19 months--since February 2012--I have been a member of the Pro Gen 15 group. I was in the Sunday group (there are two other Pro Gen 15 groups--a Monday and a Tuesday group). It has been a most worthwhile endeavor on my part.

The focus of the study group involved reading the book Professional Genealogy, edited by Elizabeth Shown Mills. It's a collection of 29 chapters written by various professionals, including Elizabeth herself. Each chapter focused on all things that matter to professionals--writing effective source citations, writing client reports, creating a marketing plan, a business plan, and a mission statement. And, yes, considering publishing and lecturing opportunities.

In addition to discussing the content of the chapters in a monthly, one-hour chat room, there is the dreaded (!) writing assignment. Every month we had to write and submit an assignment. Some of the topics included a mission statement, business plan, marketing plan, client reports, sourced citations, and family reports, and all based on the reading assignments. Some assignments are easier than others, and some were quite demanding of one's talents.  The tough part is that each member had to critique one another's submissions. Yes, critique--and we weren't allowed to just say "good job".  We could say "good job"(and we often did), but then add the constructive criticism. It felt brutal at times! Even so, I appreciated the focus and the discipline required of me.

Do I recommend the program? Unequivocally yes! Yes, there is a 19-month commitment. Several hours a month to complete the writing assignment and to read and critique the other assignments. It does cost $95 US dollars, plus the cost of the book, Professional Genealogy (I found a decent price on Amazon at about $50 US dollars, and I hear an update is in the works).  Is there a payoff at the end? Yes, I do feel strengthened and better prepared to enter the professional ranks.

The only criticism I have of the program is the chat room experience.  The chat room experience is old-fashioned--just a dialogue box to type in your part of the conversation, with no web-cam and no microphone. No chance to have a real face-to-face conversation that is now available via online software programming.  Even so, we worked around that by meeting up at the various conferences we were (and still are) attending. 

If you are interested, here's the link to the website:  Yes, there are many education programs out there--above and beyond the worthwhile conferences and institutes--to choose from. But this is the only one focusing on the professional aspects of being a genealogist.

Until next time....

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