Being a professional is a lifelong journey of growth and experiential learning. Whether you’re a seasoned business professional or a high school senior about to head to college, professional development is a part of your life. Truthfully, even the most high-powered CEOs should be learning every day. If you believe you have nothing to learn, you aren’t keeping up with industry developments. Soon, you’ll be lagging behind the more open-minded folks.
With this broad view of professional development in mind, how can you plan your journey in a smart way that gets you where you want to be? There’s an itemized list of things you should do before applying to college, but there’s no similar list for navigating the travails of life in the real world.
If you’re open to learning, that’s a great start. Now, let’s look at how you can take that openness and grow towards a brighter future full of opportunities.
Stay up to date on new tech developments.
Technology is revolutionizing how every single industry works and at a rapid pace. Things that would have been straight out of a sci-fi film just a few years ago, like voice-recognition technology, are common practice these days. Bots are so advanced that they’ve been undetectable as fake humans in various situations. If you’re not advancing with technology, you’re getting left behind.
Of course, you don’t want to jump on just any bandwagon because it happens to be going by. Make sure to read up on things to consider before automating a facility before spending any money or effort on a tech trend that’s not going to last. As long as you’re doing your research, you should be staying ahead of the game well enough.
Keep learning all the time.
In a broad sense, you should be on the lookout for learning opportunities every moment of every day. If you find yourself stuck with a boring task like filing papers or filling out forms, try to learn how to push yourself faster or more on point. By competing with yourself, you’ll be getting sharper all the time. While you may not see the benefit of this now, these are skills that you can apply to many situations. When you end up in a more senior position, that sharpness will be of great use.
For example, maybe your company has put you in charge of keeping the company, and personal cloud servers organized. Organizing files on a cloud drive probably isn’t your idea of a good time, but sharpening your organizational skills will help you oversee a larger team in the future. Even managing a cloud server is an opportunity for growth if viewed correctly.
In-person mentors are hugely beneficial.
One thing that anyone in any industry needs on their career journey is a mentor who they trust. These days, there are plenty of personal development blogs that claim to give you all you need on your way. To be sure, these blogs are full of helpful advice by well-meaning bloggers. Much of that advice is useful, too. Unfortunately, there’s only so much that a computer screen can give you. If you really want to get somewhere, it’s a good idea to have a real-life mentor to learn from.
When you think of it this way, it’s clear how financial advisors can compete with online investment platforms. Your finances are not something you want to entrust to just anyone or any bot. You want to have a real, live financial advisor to call if things go pear-shaped. Or, conversely, if you see an investment opportunity that seems like it may be lucrative, you’ll want to run that by an experienced financial advisor who will give you more than an FAQs page. When it comes down to it, real humans are just better to learn from than pre-engineered platforms.
Sign up for a few free online courses, even without academic credit.
Getting an academic degree is a great way to develop your business savvy, but it’s not the only way at all. These days, there are some great online platforms for learning about every subject under the sun. Plus, many of them provide instruction from real, experienced instructors. You can sign up to audit courses by top industry professionals on websites like Coursera or MasterClass. In fact, there are so many of these great online courses now that you can peruse reviews of the best ones out there before choosing. By viewing these lectures and seminars in your free time, you’re gaining skills that will end up making you more attractive to prospective hiring teams.
Consider yourself on a path of lifelong learning, taking one step at a time towards further enrichment. As long as you stay curious and open-minded, you’ll be developing and sharpening your skills as you go. Once you have that knowledge, no one can take it away from you.