You’ve spent most of your life up to this point learning in classrooms and being evaluated with graded tests or papers. Once you become a young professional, everything changes.
Long gone are the days that you are spoon-fed information. Sure, your supervisor will teach you things and you will learn through observation, but for the most part you’re on your own in the learning department. You’ve got to work for it now, but trust me — it’s totally worth it. Taking the initiative to enhance your skillset shows your employer that you mean business.
Here are some low-touch, simple ways to gain knowledge about your field:
• Research industry-thought leaders. Follow their blogs and sign up for e-newsletters. Seeing the emails come through your inbox each day and picking an article that you’re interested in takes no more than five to 10 minutes and will keep you on top of trends in your industry.
•Webinars and TED talks are a more detailed way of learning about a topic and can be found on YouTube or through industry websites. Set time aside to watch one over your lunch break.
•Set up Google Alerts for topics important to you and your company. You can set them to be delivered daily or weekly. They’re a great way to keep an eye on industry trends and news about your company.
•Take a notebook with you everywhere. You never know when you’ll need to take notes about a potential project or idea.
Here are some more time-consuming options that are certainly worth looking into:
•Companies such as LANtec offer training courses on a wide range of topics that apply to most industries. LANtec offers half-day and full-day options.
•Join organizations or clubs, and volunteer for committees or leadership roles. Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone when joining organizations. They’re meant to be learning experiences and can help you to meet people that will offer positive support as you learn about different leadership styles and take on projects that are important to you.
•Consider programs such as Leadership Lafayette or Dale Carnegie, which can both help you grow as a professional.
•Find a few folks in your office who would be interested and start a book club. Pick an industry-related book that doesn’t seem like a total bore and meet weekly or monthly to discuss a few chapters and how you could apply what you’ve learned to your work.
Dive in full force with these learning techniques. Meet with your supervisor and set goals. This is key for holding yourself accountable. It also lets your supervisor know which skills you want to strengthen, and he or she can potentially help you work toward those goals.
Learning in the non-typical classroom sense can be challenging, but it can also be fun and rewarding. I hope these tips help you move forward on your career path. Happy learning!
YP Pulse is a monthly column by members of the705, an organization for young leaders in Acadiana. The705 provides volunteer service, leadership development and personal growth opportunities. For more information on the 705, visit the705.org.
Hailey Vincent, is a member of the professional development and marketing committees in the705 and is a public relations associate at BBR Creative in Lafayette
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