Lifelong Lessons to Improve Your Professional Life
January 27, 2012
Remember the days of being in school wishing you could be anywhere else? The visions you had of being an adult when you wouldn’t have to do homework anymore and could just go to your job and then home, just like your parents? Did it actually turn out like that for you now, as a professional? I would guess the answer to that is "no." As we progressed through elementary school, junior high, and high school we only made it worse by going to college where pulling all nighters, juggling group projects, and stressing over finals week were commonplace. Finally, the day would come where you would graduate with your bachelor’s degree, go off to a job, and never have to worry about homework and pointless exercises ever again. Or would you? I’m going to make a big assumption here and assume when you started your first job, you realized college did not prepare you for the real world skills that were required of you. Sure, in an entry-level position all you really need to know is how to use things like Microsoft Office, calendar software, and that’s about it. But your first few weeks were probably pretty stressful because you had to quickly learn how to communicate professionally in e-mails and important documents, organize meetings, and manage a thousand tasks at once. Each of these responsibilities are very important to a team, and while you don’t get a grade for the activities, if you didn’t do them well, you could just simply be fired. If you’ve been out of college for awhile, and have received promotions, did you receive them simply because it was your time? No. You received them because you’ve worked hard, networked, and developed important relationships with specific people within your company. You learned to navigate the system, as well as how to improve your skills, and your knowledge about your subject area. But is that enough? As we climb up the corporate ladder skills must be continuously sharpened, and new ones must be added. The Bureau of Labor Statistics in Sept 2010 stated in a report people aged 18-44 changed careers on average 11 times. If a person is switching jobs that often, they must have skills that are easily transferable or be taking a lot of classes outside of work before each switch in order to remain attractive to future employers. How does one keep learning and growing as we go throughout life always looking to improve, get raises, and better jobs? It’s simple - through a system of constant education.
- Read books in your field or even to stay on top of trends, but read books outside of your job function to know what else is currently happening.
- Surround yourself with stimulating conversation by the smartest people around
- Keep a list of things you want to learn. Can be professional of personal – both will be valuable to future you.
- Go back to school. Want a MBA degree? A teaching degree? There are plenty of incredible top tier schools now entering the world of online learning that’ll make it convenient.
- Teach classes. You’d be surprised how much you learn while you’re the teacher. You've mastered skills others haven’t, but your students will ask you questions that make you think.
- Keep the idea that educating yourself is a priority. You’ll see the benefits almost immediately.