In the 12 years I spent on staff for universities I became bewildered by the way they play the travel game. Staff would have a budget (back in my day a big one) to pay for travel/accom/registration for conferences and training. And it became the game to spend the money before the end of the year.
All very nice, but it was a structured junket in about 80% of cases. For sure there's networking and professional development, but I've just watch a staff member use four years of that investment and move to another employer. She needed to - her current employer had no idea how good she was and she spent all her time dealing with white ants.
So it's refreshing for me to be doing a professional development course on my own terms. Sure, most of my money still comes from working for universities, but I send an invoice and they pay. And I manage everything else.
There is none of this patriarchal "where are you going?" stuff, and I'm paying for it out of (pre-tax) income that could've bought a TV or a new dishwasher. Which is fine.
I really like my clients - universities, SMEs, a market research company and a skydiving school. I hope things keep going well with them. I've been saying no to other work but with these guys I have enough work, enough money and have had enough freedom to rack up 600 skydives as well as an instructor rating and a national record. That's me on the bottom left below:
And one of the conditions of my current self employment is that I have to fund my own professional development trips. That's pretty darn cool, too. Let's see what this Australian Market and Social Research Society Winter School "Multivariate Data Analysis" course has for me.