As we enter the world of work and face a harsh reality, we soon understand that postgraduate education is actually only the beginning and we instead need to embark on a long path, better called the lifelong learning journey. Hence, we realise that we will change job several times during our career and that in order to become more skilled, knowledgeable and attractive for the job market, we will always have to strive to be better than the others or, using a better expression and healthier idea, the best version of ourselves.Lifelong learning is certainly the key.
Aside from companies’ progressive rise of attention to trainings, it is possible to acknowledge a trend in pursuing individual and specific access to educational channels, the sources and ways to learn and improve our knowledge being countless. Employees are willing to devote their time and often spend money to become more competitive, more skilled, and more expert: waking up every morning at 5.30 a.m. to become more competent in a certain field, signing up to online courses, attending part-time Masters or enrolling in intensive summer courses are some concrete examples.
Nevertheless, even if the above-mentioned summer courses or executive Masters offered by Universities and key sectorial stakeholders are still appealing, the last decade has witnessed some radical changes, supported by new technologies and digital opportunities. The Massive Online Open Courses, or so called MOOCs, boomed in 2012 through platforms such as Coursera and Udacity. MOOC’s popularity seems now to be back and topics offered today are infinite, miles away from the Coding Course that we first saw, back in the time. Indeed, over time, platforms and institutions offering Online Courses have progressively become more prestigious, with prominent Universities joining the trend and an offer of courses increasingly more diversified. Online courses have become so popular that even LinkedIn, the social media for professionals, is now offering courses via LinkedIn Learning, focusing on both soft and hard skills. Worth to be mentioned are also Podcasts, agreat way to stay up-to-date with current issues at stake or to focus on specific topics. The convenience of this kind of format lies in the possibility to use them in the down times of the day – commuting being one of them.
At the current pace of society, we have to become more flexible and able to pick up new competences as quickly as possible. While finding appropriate and relevant resources is essential (many of them mentioned just above), we should also stress the importance of tools we can use to improve our personal and professional development. In fact, it is by taking on certain actions and incorporating them in our attitude that it will be possible to learn something in every moment of our lives.
So, what are the steps behind the secret for a successful lifelong learning journey?
- Learn to learn. Probably the best advice! The truth is that lifelong learning must become a new attitude to learn something different every time we have the opportunity to do so and better if as quickly as possible. Then train your brain and stay active!
- Dare to ask. Every day at work is a good opportunity to learn something new from your manager, from your colleagues, from your daily tasks. Therefore, do not hesitate to ask questions but also ask for feedback. Reflecting on them is a great opportunity to think on your strategies, improve soft skills and knowledge. Also, don’t be shy in suggesting your boss the interest to attend new specific trainings, this way you will show commitment and willingness to improve.
- Try something new. Follow the example of Mr Zuckerberg and learn something new, being a new skill or a new hobby every year! It helps you to get out of the comfort zone, receive new inputs and leads you to think outside of the box.
- Get outside and mingle. Don’t miss opportunities to engage with others, participate in conferences, and expose yourself by sharing your ideas. You will be surprised by the associated benefits.
- Be curious. In other words: “Never stop exploring”. Follow the news of your sectors, sign up to newsletters of your and other fields. Interdisciplinary is the key and links are fundamental.
- Last but not least…
- Don’t stress out trying to always be perfect but choose instead to enjoy the journey!