Tapping into Learning Opportunities
Get a Diploma or Degree From a Community College, University or Private Institution
If you want to increase your chances of winning at the education game, decide what you need before you enroll in a course. In other words, take a closer look at your career goals. Ask yourself the following questions: What are my career goals? Do I need a diploma or degree to reach these goals? How does this course or program relate to my goals?
Join a Professional Association
You can grow professionally by participating in educational programs, seminars and workshops offered by an association. What's more, you'll have the opportunity to stay abreast of new trends in your particular field.
Learn From Others
Not long ago, Nancy was promoted to supervisor of a new department within a small company. She felt that she needed some practical advice on running her department - and she needed it now. This enterprising young woman phoned three companies and spoke with the supervisors who hold similar positions to hers. All three agreed to meet with her and share their expertise. And one of these women has kept in touch with her and acted as her mentor.
Share Your Learning
In these days of economic restraint, companies are sending one employee to seminars and workshops instead of the usual three or four. When Carolyn, an executive assistant, returned from a two-day workshop, she put together a short presentation. The reason: so she could share some of the information from the workshop with the junior assistants within the organization. She also offered to share her notes and handouts with those who were interested.
Form a Learning Group
If your company doesn't have a training department, perhaps management would allow employees to present lunchtime seminars. There are excellent training videos available on a wide range of topics, and many of them include a leader's guide. What's more, it's not necessary for your company to buy the videos because most of them can be rented. You and your co-workers could brown-bag-it once a week and improve your skills at the same time.
Take Advantage of Information on Audiocassettes
There is a weALTh of information available on audiocassettes. George is a busy executive who often complained about not having time to read. Recently, he found that audiocassettes help him fight the lack of time. For George, commuting and travelling time is now learning time. He points out that tapes are often condensed versions of books and this means that they zero in on important points. George says that he could never skim through a full-length book and select key points in the 60 minutes it takes to listen to one cassette.
Make Seminars Work For You
Find out as much as you can about a seminar before you register. Who is the seminar leader? What are his or her qualifications? What is the size of the class? In some cases, such as computer training, it's important to know whether it's a lecture of hands-on-training. Once you're at the seminar, be interested. Take notes, ask questions, and enter into discussions. When you get back to work, be sure to put some of the information into action. Keep in mind: "Whenever one acquires knowledge but does not practice it, is like one who ploughs a field but does not sow it."
If you're one of the professional people who are so busy working that you can't find time to keep up with the new trends in your field, try trading information. Suggest that you and two or three colleagues in your organization share the reading of professional journals and papers. Then, get together on a regular basis and discuss what you've learned. Of course, each person will have to do his or her share of the reading for this suggestion to work.
Be Well Informed
Read everything you can about the organization that employs you - annual reports, advertising brochures, and newsletters. Read newspapers and magazines to keep up with the new trends in the business world. Be on the lookout for new nonfiction books on topics you want to learn more about.
Finally, be aware not only is lifelong learning important to each of us as individuals, but it is also important to our country. An editorial in the Charlottetown Evening Patriot said it best: "For most of our history, Canadians have prospered by relying upon the resources beneath our feetin the information age, we will all need to rely on the resources between our ears."
Lifelong learning allows us to keep up with the world around us. No longer do we expect to remain in a single job or career for our entire working life. We must be willing to learn new skills, flexible enough to change direction mid-stream, and able to accept and establish new goals. To some people, this reality is frightening, and can make things seem very uncertain.
But, this uncertainty can become your opportunity. If you feel your skills are lagging behind those of co-workers, or if you wish to change the direction of your career, please talk things over with an EAP counsellor. With a counsellor's guidance, you can explore the best ways to update presently needed skills. We can help you to decide on what you need to learn if you are looking to move up from your present position.