Want Professional Growth? Keep Learning!
If you feel like your career is stagnating, you have two main options: complain about it over lunch with your colleagues or pursue professional growth through learning. While this is clearly an oversimplification, the underlying idea is true – learning is one of the best ways to spur professional growth.
In this article, we dive into the why, what, where and how of learning to explore how furthering your education can help you move forward in your career.
Why learning matters
So why is learning important for career progression? Here are just a few good reasons:
- It can make you better at what you do. Professional development training can help you stay up to date on industry developments and learn to use new tools, thereby making you better at your existing job or spurring you on towards a new one.
- It keeps your mind sharp. Exposure to new ideas helps you think critically and avoid falling into a mental rut. A sharp mind can help you solve problems at work, making you a more valuable team player.
- It signals that you’re keen to grow. If your boss or a prospective employer sees that you are making an effort to learn new skills, it will show them that you are proactive and have the potential to take on new responsibilities.
- It can open your eyes to new opportunities. Taking a class, learning a new language or simply reading a book on an unfamiliar topic can reveal new areas of interest and untapped talents, which eventually might lead you down a new career path.
What to learn
Sadly, no one has limitless time for learning, so at some point you need to focus your efforts. If you like what you do and have a clear career plan, you may be able to implement targeted learning goals – for example, to pursue professional certification specific to your career such as the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) or Project Management Professional (PMP).
On the other hand, learning is also an excellent strategy for exploring new areas if you don’t like what you do for work. Taking courses related to your interests – whether that’s photography, coding or the Korean language – will not only give you personal enjoyment, but also allow you to explore whether it would be possible to build a new career related to these areas.
Of course, it’s not necessary for there to be a clear link between what you learn and your career interests. Every time you open a book, listen to a podcast or have an interesting conversation, you have an opportunity to gain fresh insight into the history, culture and ideas of the world around you.
Where and how to learn
If you know what you’d like to learn, deciding where and how to do it is the next challenge. One of the joys of learning is that it can take endless forms. Enrolling in a master’s programme at a university, signing up for a martial arts class at a community centre or finding a skilled mentor willing to take you on as an apprentice – these are all options on the table.
If you find the idea of structured learning appealing, massive open online courses (MOOCs) can be a great way to further your education without a major commitment in terms of time or money. There are plenty of platforms offering MOOCs – some free, some fee-based – taught by professors from leading universities around the world, including:
If you’re looking for a more comprehensive educational opportunity, or you simply prefer being in a classroom rather than learning online, there are also lots of options for part-time and full-time studies through universities and polytechnics. Many of these offer continuing education courses suitable for adult learners in addition to their regular degree and diploma programmes.
A growing mind, a thriving career
No matter what you do and how good you are at it, one of the best lessons you can learn is that your education never really ends. Many of the world’s most successful people are endlessly curious and constantly expanding their knowledge in areas both familiar and foreign. So if you want to see more professional growth in your career, be sure to keep learning.