Some smart advice that my dad gave my daughter just before she started college was to go to school to prepare for the job you want. Additionally, begin to prepare yourself to be the boss of the boss of the job you want. Lofty? Yes. Wise? Absolutely! This advice is one we all can follow by always seeking out opportunities to learn, regardless of where we are in our careers.
While you might know what you want to do first, it’s harder to know what you’ll want to do in the future. So, it’s smart to learn as much about your industry as possible, even going outside of your current responsibilities. You’ll often become more successful by gaining greater understanding of a variety of aspects within your chosen field, both through experience and intentional development. This context will give you a better, larger perspective on your current role and your future trajectory. For example, a teacher who has taken a class in education law – which is typically studied by aspiring administrators – will be less likely to make mistakes and more likely to feel confident when handling matters of privacy, special education and other litigious topics. It’s a win-win to know more.
Having knowledge outside of your current role also comes in handy if you find yourself wishing to make a lane change or specialize within your profession. After college graduation and working in her chosen field, my daughter learned about roles and opportunities she didn’t know existed before. Because she pursued a minor in communications and marketing in addition to her major, she had a leg up when it comes to exploring additional opportunities.
For those who have already completed a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree or even a doctorate, you still have the ability to expand your knowledge and continue your education in order to move up, change lanes or become a specialist in your career. Certificate programs and micro-credentials are a fantastic way to upskill your resume. Professional development is another key way to learn and keep up with industry trends.
No matter the line of work you’re in, always be open to taking classes or continuing your education in a way that will give you more perspective on your industry beyond the job that you’re currently in. If you’re unsure of what areas to look into, talk to others who work in the field or student support at your college or university. Become a lifelong learner and opportunities will always be open to you.