By Mary Barth
Human Resources, Red Arrow Industries
You finished your education and are ready to take on a new job. That’s great except if that’s true, you won’t go very far. Why is that, you may be asking? The answer is simple; you should always be seeking ways to educate yourself. You never finish with your education, hopefully. Learning how to learn is the skill that is in highest demand.
Everything is changing so rapidly, from new technologies, to how we work, to new information and statistics, to increasing our understanding of the world around us. What you learned in school five years ago, may actually be obsolete today. So you will need to learn in order to stay on top of changes to keep current.
School most likely didn’t teach you how to deal with a difficult boss, navigate a new office culture, manage your time efficiently, understand how to work with multiple personalities, or how to juggle multiple projects. It’s the ability to learn that will help you through every step of the way.
Your job or role no longer fits neatly into a single box, where duties are prescribed and dictated. Everything is constantly evolving. Often, challenges arrive that are unexpected. You may not always be able to rely on supervisors or organizations to provide the information you need. You will have to rely on yourself.
Demonstrating that you have the ability and desire to learn can go a long way. For example, learn about the company you are interviewing with prior to going in for the meeting. Be prepared. If you make a mistake while working, demonstrate that you can learn from that mistake, fix it, and move on. If there is a specific challenge at work that you need to overcome, learn more about it so perhaps you can help resolve it.
Of course learning is not the only skill employers assess and desire in employees. Experience, education, and knowledge may all play important roles and can certainly be the foundation employers are seeking for many jobs. However, what will set you apart, and what employers are always on the lookout for, is for someone who knows how to learn. You will go much farther in not only your career, but in life if you can master learning how to learn.
“It’s what we think we know that keeps us from learning.”
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Check out these free resources:
Coursera offers over 400 courses from top universities across the country. Academic Earth offers the same type of thing.
There are open education programs offered through some universities that are free. These programs are not for credit (they’re free- duh!) but you still can get the same education if you want to, at no cost! Some prestigious universities that offer open education programs that are:
Harvard’s medical school
Learn a new language for FREE at DuoLingo! It offers classes in Spanish, French, Portuguese, German, and Italian using not only a website, but an app for your smartphone as well.
TED Talks has great short talks with a lot of relevant info. Topics include issues like the environment, food, our educational system, etc. Great for more informal education and a jumping off point for more research.
Brick and Mortar Resources (Cost some $ but you can earn or degree or simply take some courses):
If there’s something specific you’re interested in, do some research online for that specific topic to learn about all the resources and make the best decision for your lifestyle and budget!
Finally, one way to become an expert on anything is to read absolutely everything you can find about that topic. If you find an article about it, look at the references, find them, read them, look at their references, find them, read them… you get the point. So much information is available today.