By Catherine Lang-Cline
I graduated from college back in the 1980’s. No need to do the math, I will admit that it was a while ago. But just because some time has passed since I walked across a stage, it doesn’t mean that my education finished way back then. Quite the contrary, I’ve been learning something every day since.
The thing is, no matter what career you are in, you need to evolve, to learn. Everything is changing at an extremely rapid pace and if you do not keep up, you will be left behind. When the last recession hit, we saw numerous people who did not know the latest software. They were not familiar with job boards and some could not put together an effective resume or portfolio. If they had not had to look for a job in the last 10 years, they had a lot of work in front of them to turn an old leather portfolio a sleek electronic one.
Sometime people think that staying current is difficult, but it is not if you know how your brain is wired. Here are three ways that people learn:
1. Formal education – Many people thrive in a formal school atmosphere. The desks and books and instructors are all in a form that we are all familiar with. There is a start and an end time to class, laid out assignments and you leave with a certificate that is suitable for framing. Start, end, done.
2. Self-study – This is less formal but with the same idea. You need to be completely comfortable with reading and learning on your own. Tutorials are your instructor of choice. Or you devour instruction manuals and meticulously follow the steps. You may keep yourself current on the latest trends on social media or through industry magazines. Read, read, read, and keep the flow of information going.
3. School of life – You have learned everything that you know on-the-job or in the experiences you have had. You surround yourself with smart people and learn from them. You expose yourself to other creative talent through shows, exhibitions, and sharing of experiences. You absorb through doing.
Personally, I like all of it. But most of what I have learned has come from the School of Life. It is amazing what you can learn from a single job. Let’s say that you are a graphic designer. If you look around you, you can learn about budgets and schedules. You can learn about retouching and printing techniques. Graphic design now spills into web design and the next thing you know you are designing a web page. Honestly, being aware of everything around me is what educated me for starting my own business. Not to mention, asking a lot of questions of people who have been there and tapping into their School of Life experiences.
The key is to keep feeding the brain that has served you so well so far. Never stop learning. Not only will you be smarter, you will be keeping yourself current in your career.