We Are ALL In the Education Business

In the late 90′s, I finally got my first cellphone. I fought it for years.
Learn to Swim from Peers

Photo Credit: Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig

The idea that I would be on the phone during my quiet time or drive time talking (and probably working) did not appeal to me in the least. Sure there were social benefits, but I wanted time to recharge, unplug, meditate, and collect my thoughts.  In short, I wanted down time.  Fast forward to 2014.

Now, it would be almost impossible to live without this device.  Why is that? (Long live down time, rest in peace.)

Ask yourself: have you ever gone a day without your smartphone or mobile device?  If you unplugged from the net and social media, how long would you last–two days perhaps, a week?

Let’s make this a multiple choice question.

With no mobile device, would you feel:

A. Isolated
B. Uninformed
C. Vulnerable
D. All of the above

For many, the answer is D.

In the end, I needed a cellphone because I couldn’t wait to know things any more.  I needed to reach people wherever I was, at times to keep in touch for social reasons, but more often to get things done or grab a quick update from someone to assess and learn what needed to be done next.

As I write this blog, I’m finding it interesting that there are some keywords I just can’t avoid.  This is not for SEO purposes (sorry Google), but rather because I can only describe what I’m saying by using these words and they keep popping up.  Do you see a pattern yet?

The fact is, I can’t talk about connecting with other people without using the words “know” and “learn.” (Well whaddaya know?)  If you think about it (“think”–there’s another one), it’s engrained in our social language.

In fact, I hate to admit it, but it’s no longer just me on the continuous learning bandwagon.  How many times have you seen the word “webinar” in your email box lately?  There sure seem to be a lot of free classes these days.  And how many seminars have you gone to this year?  It seems like a lot of expense to put those on, doesn’t it?

I went to a couple of free business strategy meetings and M&A seminars earlier this year, and I learned a lot.  I’m not being facitious, I really did.  It was a valuable experience, and I couldn’t help being struck by how much they had to educate me in order for me to become their future customer.  And that’s when it hit me:

We are all in the education business now.  Every one of us.

Whether you’re educating your future customers, current customers, peers, co-workers, employees, investors, the press, the general public, or friends and family; if you want to stay relevant, people need to understand what you’re doing, how it works, and why it’s important.  Things are moving too fast for people to pay attention to anything if they don’t understand its value.

I also equate this idea with the reason we received so many questions recently at Lrngo from users wanting to know how to promote their expertise and themselves as speakers; which became the subject of two Lrngo blogs earlier this year.  So many people with expertise wanted to gain speaking experience and promote themselves by giving presentations, webinars and classes on their topics, that we had to dig in and come up with the information.

This trend isn’t as much about 15 minutes of fame as it is about survival of the fittest.  The consultant, service provider or company that doesn’t stay ahead of the curve by educating their target market on why they are needed and what makes them different won’t be around very long.

As we shift to the reputation economy and social media shines the spotlight on the expertise of individuals, the move toward constantly educating and re-educating each other is not likely to subside any time soon.  In the words of Denis Waitley, “<you can> never become so much of an expert that you stop gaining expertise.”  You have to stay ahead of the curve.

In late 2014, I finally joined Twitter. I fought it for years. It’s amazing how much you can learn from one sentence.

Follow me on Twitter @davidcbrake

Importance of College Minors and Secondary Skills

In this current economic climate, they say it is fundamental that students are aware of the skills sought by employers. Yet, the question we hear “on the streets” and in books like “Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs” by Peter Cappelli is, “In three years,  does anyone really know what skills those will be?”  Perhaps it’s time to diversify.  Employers prefer students with a broad set of skills, and because of this, your college minor and secondary skills may be more important than you realize.

Companies seek employees who demonstrate a capacity to think critically, communicate clearly both orally and in their writing, can apply their knowledge in real-world settings, and are capable of solving complex problems. When surveyed, 93% of employers stated that these skills are now regarded as more important than the employee’s undergraduate major. Employers stress the importance of intercultural skills, a demonstration of ethical judgement and integrity, and the capacity for continued new learning.

Your Career

There are several practices students can undertake to improve their chances, and it’s becoming more important to consider your college minor and secondary skills as characteristics of educational practices that would be attractive to potential employers; such as the ability to conduct research and use evidence-based analysis; gain in-depth analytical knowledge; problem-solving and communication skills; and how to apply the skills you have learned into real-world settings. Think skills such as learning a foreign language, playing a musical instrument, or participating in volunteering or community work sound frivolous?  Think again, as all of these skills demonstrate to employers that you possess a wide range of abilities.

While many employers still prioritize key skills over a job candidate’s field of study, a majority of employers also state that in order for college graduates to achieve long-term career success, it is pertinent that they have both field specific knowledge and a broad range of skills and other knowledge. In other words, in order to advance throughout your career, it is important to be able to adapt to changing job requirements. As such, any additional skills you possess can only benefit you in the future.

Job Market

Because employers are now seeking innovation and creativity in their employees, they prefer them to be able to rely on their multiple educational resources to complete any task. Employees today are often expected to be able to work in a team, plan, organize and prioritize work, communicate verbally with people inside and outside the organization, obtain and process information, analyze data, and use these skills to solve any problems which may occur.

Moreover, as modern society grows more heavily dependent on technology, employers seek candidates who display an aptitude and proficiency with computer programs. As a result of this, there has been an exponential increase in recent years in the availability of online resources to help students with their studies.

There are many online educational tools which enable you to expand your technological skills, in addition to online tutors and peer learning platforms to aid you in academic studies. It is worth investing time exploring all of these options in order to improve your knowledge across a broad scope of topics and increase your chances of post-college employability.

Due to the vast numbers of candidates applying for jobs in today’s society, possessing skill sets that set you apart from others and demonstrate that you are a well-rounded employee who will be helpful and profitable to a company is a key advantage. Therefore, it’s becoming fundamental to expand your college minor and secondary skills throughout your education, and not solely rely on your undergraduate major to gain you employment.

In other words, when a hundred qualified applicants apply for a job, what makes them the same are their qualifications, but what sets them apart are their “other skills.”  So seek to acquire as many different “other skills” as possible, using online resources and peer learning, extracurricular programs, or volunteering in your local community. Those who diversify now will be more likely to reap the benefits later of lucrative long-term careers.

Author bio

This article was written by George Campbell, a freelance writer with four years teaching experience from Birmingham, England. George loves writing about education, but he takes his own advice to diversify and also writes across a variety of other topics. You can connect with George on Google+ and follow him on Twitter.

George Campbell