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Education is the cornerstone of successful careers. You’ll study throughout your youth – and maybe into higher education – in order to accumulate the skills and methods of thinking that make you a confident and competent worker.
You’ll also find, over the course of a long career, that occasionally you’ll be required to resubmerge yourself in the nourishing waters of education – especially as industry standards are disrupted by emerging technologies.
This article contemplates the many areas of professional progression that can be augmented by education – and how you’ll be able to find the perfect course to maintain your competency across a long and successful career.
From time to time, educational opportunities arise in the workplace. They may be open to all staff, or you may need to ask to receive the training – but in either case you should always leap at the opportunity to onboard some extra knowledge into your working life. Training in the workplace includes:
- How to treat customers and communicate with clients
- Fire safety and first aid training
- Digital literacy and technologies introductions
- Complex legal and administrative training
- Industry-specific seminars reviewing competitors’ progress
- Role-specific training that’ll increase your capabilities in your own role
- Management training to prepare you for a promotion
Whatever the opportunity, it’s important to seize it with both hands – you’re after all being paid to learn, and invested in as a valued member of your workplace community.
From marketing to finance conferences, management workshops to HR away days, you’ll find that events that’ll help you gain contacts and knowledge are happening virtually every week in your city of residence. From the small-scale classes and seminars to the far larger national or international events at which you’ll listen to guest speakers detailing the latest in industry news, there’s plenty to get involved in to education yourself towards a brighter career future – in practical skills and the kind of ‘soft skills’ business leaders often speak of.
Happily, you can search for these events in a number of ways in the modern world. The simplest way is to conduct some initial exploratory searches on Google – with keywords helping you narrow down the listings to those you’re looking for. But you’ll also be able to use social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and the job-specific site LinkedIn to help you find events – as well as events websites such as Eventbrite. Buy tickets in advance to ensure you’re nourishing yourself with extra industry wisdom as regularly as possible.
A more stealthy way of acquiring new knowledge is through that romantic old pursuit – the night class. A quick search online will reveal to you the deeply exciting scope of these classes – many of them accredited to institutions that offer certification upon their completion. Here you should look at gaining entirely new knowledge in departments of your business that you’d otherwise be hopelessly out of tune with.
For instance, a coding and software engineering class might help you understand the IT systems that govern your business. An advertising and marketing class will show you the ways in which your marketing department are impressively building your audience and getting your brand out there. And a course in finance will help you if you’re ever to come in direct contact with company cash in the course of your long career.
Perhaps more convenient than a course of night classes are those now available entirely online. MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are provided by some of the most impressive universities in the world, and many of them offer free courses to help you get up to scratch with certain realms of knowledge. If you’re looking to make an overall improvement in your business skills, then you should embark upon an online business course.
Get online to study an ACBSP accredited MBA, which you’ll be able to complete within 18 months. All the information you’ll need to complete your studies can be found online, and you’ll be frankly amazed at the quality of teaching and the responsiveness of feedback despite your not physically attending a university. It’s one of the major benefits of the internet for self-educational purposes – and one you should engage with as soon as possible if you’re looking for education to help you achieve your career goals.
There are also specialized online courses that prepare you for particular examinations, such as the CFA preparation courses found here.
After introducing lofty and ever-so-impressive online university courses, it might seem a little ludicrous to move on to YouTube tutorials. But that would be to seriously undermine what is some incredibly useful and easily-digestible content on a near-infinite number of subjects. Of course in business you’ll be less interested in the arts and practical tutorials and more interested in the business modeling, advanced excel skills tutorials – which you’ll find in their droves.
Oftentimes tutorials are put together by some of the smartest cookies in their particular field, who’ve decided to take their expertise online to inspire others towards better business practice. Find yourself a YouTube tutor who you respect, and work through their videos, taking on board their tips and skills as you do so. There’s always going to be a useful piece of information available to you on the world wide web – often, it’s just about knowing where to find it.
Head to the Library
The internet is wonderful for self-educational purposes, but to trawl through pages upon pages of webinars and through back catalogues of videos and lectures might only be as instructive as your finding one or two great books to help lead you towards deeper knowledge and a more broad understanding of the world of business.
There are plenty of historical and contemporary examples of excellent, informative business books. Respected the world over for their incisive takes on the world of trade, marketing, finance, management or general business practice, you may just find your mojo in the business world by consuming some of the most influential books in the genre. Don’t neglect this older form of information consumption in favor of internet-based articles – books give you something different from the information gleaned from webpages.
Learn From Your Elders
While this piece of advice might seem almost Biblical, it does touch on one of those important – and, sometimes, undervalued – sources of knowledge that we often forget right under our noses. The older, ore experienced and more senior individuals who work in your company are often benevolent and boundless fountains of specific knowledge and helpful advice that’ll help guide your decision-making in your career.
You should never feel afraid to approach those more experienced than you for advice. This act is far more likely to be interpreted as a sign of respect and humility than it is one of desperation. And by establishing in the most senior individuals in your company a kind of mentor-student relationship, you’ll be learning directly from those who’ve achieved what you want to achieve in your career – those tricks and shortcuts that they used to ascend to the top.
Self-Reflection and Evaluation
Then there’s the kind of progression that’s self-generated from within, through careful and ongoing introspection. The sort of knowledge you’re dealing with here isn’t necessarily something that can be taught – and it’s more associated with how you conduct yourself in your professional life than it is about the quality of your work or the skills you’re bringing to the table when working on group projects.
Treating one’s actions and reactions to events with a certain amount of criticality is a vital human tendency that allows us to build ourselves up, grow as individuals, and make sure that we’re finding the right behaviors to meet with the stresses and trials of our time in business. Reflecting on what was said in a heated moment, or whether you might have been able to handle a difficult customer with more dignity and calm, are forms of self-reflection that are just as important in terms of your educational pathway as the courses you take to gain practical knowhow.
A final element to this kind of self-generated improvement is to evaluate yourself regularly. Set new goals and objectives consistently so that you’re always enjoying a source of meaning in your life. Recognize when your work has been good and when it’s been less so, and understand what circumstances contributed to both those scenarios. What you’re looking to do is to approach your performance with understanding and humility – and if you’re able to do this you’ll enjoy a feedback loop that operates independent of others, guiding you to better practice in your career.
How to Apply New Knowledge
Having looked at length at all the ways in which you can glean exciting and useful knowledge to help you progress in your career, it’s now time to turn our attention to its application in your day-to-day business dealings.
If you’ve recently picked up a skill through an online course, night class or series of lectures that you feel you should now be applying in your place of work, it’s important that you share this with your superiors so that they’re better able to assign you suitable tasks. Self-education is an impressive thing for an employee to do, and may well lead you towards a pay rise or promotion should you show a marked increase in the quality and efficiency of your work.
These skills are not just your own to cherish – you may well have picked up some nifty tips that you’ll be able to share with coworkers in order to enhance the performance of everyone around you. Don’t, of course, go about instructing colleagues about how best to input Excel formulas – but you should be ready to share your knowhow should the situation arise.
Supplementing Your Resumé
With each new skill gained – and most especially for each new qualification you receive – you should begin making amendments to your resumé so that those who you submit it to are fully abreast of your ongoing learning. Naturally, the more skills you present on your CV, the more you’ll be drawing the attention of those who would hire you, figuring as a valuable asset for them to onboard.
If you’re an avid self-educator, that’s a quality that’s worth putting on your resumé, too. If you’re asked about it in interview, you’ll be able to go into detail about all of the ways you’ve found to get ahead through consistent training and knowledge acquisition.
Remember that your career doesn’t necessarily build up within the confines of you present company – with the right amount of education, you might find that you outgrow your present role, and that you’ll be applicable to other roles that pay more or are of a higher rank than your present occupation.
Strategize Your Education
A final tip is to strategize what you learn, and when you learn it. It may not be very practical, for instance, to learn about the intricacies of the global financial markets when you’re a junior intern at a high street bank. Meanwhile, taking a mathematics course when you’re already in a role in which the maths is comfortable for you is perhaps not the most worthwhile time or financial investment.
Instead, you should look at the skills that those in roles that you aspire to fill possess – and which of those you’re lacking. An efficient way to work this out is to simply investigate what competitors are advertising for on job websites. If, for instance, you see that knowledge of global policy is required for a global position at a corporation, then that’s an area of expertise you should rush to build.
Education isn’t just about the curiosity you have for the processes in the world – you should also strategize in order to make practical use of the knowledge that you onboard throughout your career, ticking boxes in the minds of employers and your superiors about your suitability for more advanced roles.
While strategizing is efficient and pays off in the long-term, you should never turn up an opportunity to educate yourself a little more deeply in subjects that may come to be useful later in your career.
By using and engaging with the extensive resources listed above, you’ll be ensuring that your education is always progressing on a parallel track to your career, influencing the way in which you work, the angle at which you approach problems and, ultimately, the value that your colleagues and bosses regard you with.
Lifelong learning will keep you sharp and ahead of the game thought a long and illustrious career – so book yourself onto a course now – and get learning to help achieve a better future.