“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.” – Pele

Training comes in many shapes and forms; short courses, on the job application, or being thrown in the deep end. Applying myself different training recently, I found short courses useful in filling gaps within existing knowledge. Implementing new learning is easy with short courses due to information being delivered in bite-sized pieces.

Nostalgia of being a young student flashed past as I realised how important and different it is to learn in adulthood. Learning is vital for growth as it is to reinvention.

What should you consider first before taking the plunge on new training? How can you capitalise on what you’ve learned and implement immediately?

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Does training ‘X’ Align to Your Why?

Views from thought leaders see today’s education system as inept in equipping us with the skills for emerging and disruptive industries. Changes from the information age are so rapid that by 2020, an additional one million programming jobs will be required in the US alone.

Running ourselves obsolete is a risk we need to tackle, so increasing our skill set is a must right?

Everything comes back to why. Keeping your skills relevant is important,  however there’s no point studying something ‘in’ if it doesn’t align to your interests or direction.

Appears catch-22 because you may not know you like something or if its right for you until you’ve tried it. Hating mathematical statistics means you’re unlikely to excel at data science (no pun intended).

What to Do?

  • Review your current position. Are you ready for change? Is your job soon to be disrupted?
  • Identify your interests related and unrelated to work
  • Examine training, courses or groups that exist for your topic(s) of interest

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Establish Background Knowledge and Examine Alternative Resources

Attending a Lean Startup course recently a student’s ‘problem to solve’ was creating an accounting practice. Unfortunately their idea wasn’t a startup, and their problem to solve wasn’t what the course was designed for.

Grasp what you want to achieve. Answering the questions examining your why should give you an idea of what you want to learn.

You’d decline going to a concert without knowing the artist, so understand what what you want to learn This will ensure you maximise what achieve from your training experience.

What to Do?

  • Sign up to Eventbrite or MeetUp and attend free courses/information sessions to gauge your interest (following this you may consider paying a small amount for paid sessions as well)
  • Join, like or participate in social media groups on Facebook or LinkedIn to understand if you fit the topic and join in on conversations
  • Explore alternatives – are there any places, schools or people you can learn your desired skills from? Mentoring programs might be a good start
  • Test skills and roles by shadowing or seconding in functions to gain experience within large corporations or find places you can practice

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Understand Your Commitment

Studying full or part time requires commitment with money, attendance, pre and post course work, feedback, homework and presentations etc…

Availability of free, in classroom and online courses is easily accessible for most courses. Discerning what is relevant to you and how to go about it is critical in picking the right training.

What to Do?

  • Decide on your training or course and the medium. Online platforms include the likes of Udemy and many classroom courses exist at places like General Assembly.
  • Read or request the course syllabus, review payment plans and talk to the provider to ensure a full understanding of the course requirements, output and learning objectives.
  • Register, attend and DO the work.

Attending three short courses in the past six months I witnessed ~30% of the people didn’t complete the pre-course work or missed more than the recommended number of classes. Paying hundreds if not thousands of dollars is a waste if you’re unable to get the most out what you’ve learned.

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Reinforcing Learning Through Action

Juggling study, work and assignments may be challenging throughout further education but the hardest part is implementation.

Retention of learning through listening only occurs for about 5% of people. Furthermore, most of us learn through audiovisual stimuli and through doing or teaching somebody else.

Participating in a Digital Marketing course last month, I aimed to reinforce learnings into Reintention. Presenting a digital marketing campaign, I was required to create three marketing strategies. Post course I have been working to systematically break down my strategies and prioritise the work needed to implement them.

What to Do

  • Capture notes, materials and diagrams during your course. Learning is better retained fresh rather than struggling to be recalled later on.
  • Find projects, tasks or areas within your job or life in which these skills can be learned. Use it or lose it. Create a side hobby or project to apply some of your learning
  • Teach someone most important components acquired through conversation and coaching. Sharing the knowledge will help firm up your skills and your ability to teach indicates and in depth understanding of the key topics.

Pause & Reflect:

  • What skills or areas do you want to improve on and does this relate to your why?
  • Have you undertaken research to understand the background and what training options are available?
  • How committed are you to learning and how are you able to use and reinforce learnings post the course?

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