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Bridging the Gap from Higher Education ... My CPTD Journey


Wed Aug 18 2021

Bridging the Gap from Higher Education ... My CPTD Journey

What would you do if you could pursue anything you wanted? That is the question I was faced with when I became a “trailing spouse” in 2019. My partner had gotten their dream job, so we moved from Canada to the United States. I was unable to obtain a work permit, though, so the door was wide open for me to pursue other options. Not working, however, was a scary concept for someone who had always been a go-go-go work person.

I refocused my energy and became a full-time volunteer supporting projects and causes close to my heart and where I could apply my professional knowledge and skills. The more I volunteered, the more I reflected on my past work in the higher education field and what I wanted for my future. The goal I arrived at was that when I can work, I want to be in the corporate arena for training and development. Supporting learning and growth were the favorite parts of my last role.


However, I did not know how to reach this goal. I was in a new country, had no network to turn to when trying to break into a different sector, and was in work-permit limbo. I felt lost, so I took a step back and looked at all my experiences, knowledge, and skills and dove into research and brainstorming mode. I needed to figure out my professional development plan. After making a few mind maps of all the findings, I decided that pursuing being a CPTD was the right move to launch me into this other career stream and help to show my credibility.

The first thing I did once I was approved to take the exam was to chart my study plan. I looked up every resource I could find online, talked to people who also went through the experience, and joined two study groups. I found helpful the many flashcards, online resources, and personal blogs that document my fellow CPTDs’ journeys.

I read the TD Body of Knowledge (TDBoK) closer to my exam date, which aided in pulling all the concepts together. I recommend that everyone read the TDBok three times: read it in its entirety once as you start, then every week read through the sections again to the schedule of a study group, and then a few weeks before your exam, reread the entire book. It seems daunting, but getting that complete picture is key to knowing how to apply concepts.

The study groups were the most helpful because they kept me on track with my study plan and supported me throughout the process. I repeatedly practiced all the mock questions we made in the study group or that were part of the study guides to get that exam feel. With the study groups, I met many amazing people from fellow members, guest speakers, and the leaders of the groups. Suddenly, I started building a network and friendships. I loved the study group experience so much that I signed on to help lead the ATD Rocky Mountain Chapter’s upcoming fall cohort.

The exam is so application-focused that I was forced to figure out how to translate the experiences and skills I had from the higher education field into the corporate environment examples. I feel confident that I can make that switch between the sectors. My focus remains on volunteering, but I see all the value I bring as a CPTD to these roles.


It feels incredible to have accomplished becoming a CPTD. The many hours studying were worth it as I feel validated in my skills and ready to take on all the new possibilities. If you have the time and the energy to dive in and become a CPTD or APTD, go for it!

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