In times when businesses are pivoting faster to grow, technical skills alone are often no longer sufficient. Organizations aren’t just interested in hiring experienced technical professionals with the right skills. Many of them are eager to hire passionate technologists who exhibit a thirst for knowledge and curiosity. This passion to learn and grow stems from the beneficial attitude of lifelong learning.
Recently, I explored ways IT professionals can remain lifelong learners with Amy Kardel, Senior Vice President of Strategic Workforce Relationships at CompTIA. Amy shared some invaluable lessons that have personally helped her remain invested in lifelong learning and make the right career choice.
Do your own SWOT analysis
Being aware of our own knowledge gap can act as an incentive to learn more. Once you know your knowledge gaps, you can make a conscious effort to learn new skills. Amy says investing in learning Cloud Computing, Cybersecurity, Big Data, IoT, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning is the smart choice in today’s Managed IT landscape.
Remember, lifelong learning is all about being active and proactive rather than selective! Alongside learning new skills, polish the ones you already have. Keep growing your expert status and continue to build credibility in your field. Read, study, follow industry leaders on social media, and attend industry conferences.
Listen and learn
You can learn a lot by listening, so be willing to accept constructive criticism. Don’t ignore problems, and instead of just complaining, look for ways to fix them. Whether you are missing a certain skill or can improve on any behavioral aspects, take the necessary measures toward learning and understanding as the methods to create a solution. Surround yourself with people who align with your core values of “lifelong learning.” Immersing yourself into learning environments will help you stay positive and motivated as you continue on your professional journey.
Encourage yourself to ask questions
Not asking important questions is an active enemy of curiosity. Inquiring minds tend to be open to learning, therefore stimulating interest in the subject matter. Confused about categorizing a NOC issue as L1 or L2? Don’t know how to document a new patch solution? Ask questions till your curiosity is satisfied.
Begin with a broad question, and then gradually ask more specific follow-up questions. Or, do the opposite; begin with a narrow scope and gradually widen your focus. Take time to thoroughly consider and reflect on the questions.
Take something away from all experiences
Your day-to-day tasks can seem to lack value and at times can serve as a distraction or even personal frustration. It takes discipline to bring the mind back to what is most important to you and find the right balance. When you focus on the part of your job that you cannot control, it’s easy for a “why bother” attitude to seep in. When the focus is on what you can do to create maximum impact within your role, you are much more likely to be excited about your existing role and learn more from your day-to-day tasks.
So, the next time you are given an assignment, don’t just race to a solution. Step back for a moment and think about how you can do it better and smarter. Never let a missed target, service delays, or customer pressure go to waste. Learn from the experience, rethink, and do things differently next time.
Look forward and plan your next adventure
By taking control of your vision for your career, you can picture what you truly desire and take the necessary steps to move toward that vision. Think about where you would like to be in the next five or 10 years and what skills do you want to reach there. Charting a career course and setting reachable learning goals is a great way to stick to true lifelong learning. To avoid becoming overwhelmed, Amy suggests taking one small step or action that will help move you towards your goals rather than focusing on the larger milestones.
Record and file all of your achievements along the way, especially those that align with the lifelong learning philosophy. In times of self-doubt, remind yourself of these achievements so you are empowered to be successful beyond your day-to-day job responsibilities.
Final Thought: Today’s competitive talent landscape demands the right mix of attitude and aptitude. By cultivating a lifelong learning attitude and a coachable mindset, you can more easily build a career versus a job.leadership lessonslearning at work