We are all in a constant flux of learning and changing, no matter how slightly. While the brain may gawk at new opportunities and experiences, especially if it’s a new way of life (like a career change), trying new things and making leaps of faith is where the best parts of life can be found.
It’s all too easy to get sucked into a career out of convenience. Getting a job right out of university or college is so hard that you often end up in the first position that will accept you. From there, it’s a long journey of progressing based on who will take you.
At a certain point, however, you are going to have to take a long hard look at yourself to determine if the direction you are going is somewhere you want to be. If you don’t want to work in your field or in your role for the rest of your life, then it is time to make big changes.
The good news is that there are so many ways to further your training, build your skillset, and take charge of your career.
Training and Education: Top Tips
When it comes to making a career shift or starting a second career, retraining, and education come up a lot. While lifelong learning will play a huge part in any successful person’s career, not everyone will need to earn a full degree to meet those requirements. Simply adding skills by completing short courses, workshops, or training retreats is enough for many.
It is the dedication to furthering your experience, skills, and knowledge that will make a massive difference, no matter the field you work in and no matter your ultimate goals.
When to Earn a Degree
There are so many reasons to earn a degree. Earning at least a bachelor’s is often a requirement today, even for the most basic roles, but more importantly, it gives you a foundation in the field you want to work in.
However, don’t immediately look into a second bachelor’s when it comes to redirecting your career with a degree. Furthering your education with a master’s degree can be the faster, more economical, and more direct approach.
This is particularly true when you want to specialize in a new role in the same field. If you work in education, for example, then you can transition into counseling. Online school counseling masters programs prepare you to counsel students of all ages, and more importantly, it is essential to earn your license in this role. Those interested in working in this role should not only learn more about what this type of degree can offer but also how their current background can give them a unique edge over others in the job market.
That license is one of the biggest clues as to whether you need to earn a degree. While simply wanting to earn a degree is enough of a reason to invest in one, it only becomes a requirement when your state or country legally requires you to hold a license, and said license needs you to hold an accredited degree beforehand.
Other reasons why you would want to earn a degree are to expand your expertise. There are many roles where employers are interested specifically in your academic accomplishments. Earning a degree is also important if you want to work in any academic field or in research.
When to Attend Short Courses
Short courses should be considered by everyone – even those working towards a degree. There are small subjects that may benefit your career or life that just are not part of your curriculum. They may come up after you graduate, or you may simply have an interest in the subject.
For those that are hyper-focused on their career, consider how a short course in an unrelated subject can actually expand your skillset, knowledge, and your ability to think outside of the box. You could take a short course in history, for example, and use that knowledge to better understand the cultural attitudes of the students you care for as a school counselor.
The course could help your personal life instead. You could take an art course and use that new skill to help you decompress and improve your sense of fulfillment.
Not every short course or workshop you take needs to directly help you with your career. We are multi-faceted people, and having a rounded understanding of the world can improve our ability to be creative. If the course only helps you in your personal life, then this too will eventually translate into a career benefit since you’ll be less stressed and happier in general.
Earning certifications can be as fast as taking a short test online so that you have a badge you can put on your resume or job profile. Think of them as easy ways for employers to understand that you have the skills that they need. It’s direct and fast.
An excellent example of when you will want to earn a certification is to prove your competency in using software tools. Keep these certifications up-to-date and use them to prove your competency in using essential skills.
Onsite Training: Top Tips
There is a reason why “learning on the job” is a common phrase and approach for many. It’s because it works. You will always learn on the job, but if you want to get the most out of every single role you take on, you are going to have to do more than just figure out the best and most efficient way to do your job.
When you consider that one of the biggest obstacles to people finding their dream job is that they don’t know their options, you start to see the reason to explore other job roles and what they entail in your industry, starting with your employer.
Shadowing is great for many reasons, especially if you are currently lower down on the career ladder. To start, you can learn so much and cut down on time it takes you to figure out the best and most efficient way to do things. If the person you are shadowing or, at the very least, talking to is in a different role, then you can start to understand what they do and how you can position yourself to eventually work in that role yourself.
The biggest benefit of shadowing, however, is that you are showing initiative – initiative that proves to employers that you are passionate about your career and their company. You may use what you learn somewhere else, but making a great impression and learning while you are at it is always going to be important for your career.
Requesting Formal Training
Though there is no guarantee that your employer will say yes, it never hurts to ask if they will sponsor your further training or attendance at industry-relevant events. The reality is that it is far cheaper to train a skilled worker than it is to hire someone who has to take on all that training on their own.
If they do say yes, then there may be a compromise to your contract. If they pay for your training, you may need to work for them for so long, or alternatively, you may need to sign a non-compete.
Always weigh the pros and cons before any deal, and know that sometimes there isn’t a catch at all. It is in the best interest of companies to stay abreast with the news and trends in their industry. Sponsoring employees to go to conferences to both represent the company and, more importantly, report back the latest news and recommendations is common practice.
If you want to be the person that goes on these trips, be vocal about them. Volunteer. Bring these events or workshops to the attention of your manager or employer. At the very least, they’ll start to think of you when they see these types of opportunities, and in the best-case scenario, they’ll start sponsoring your attendance and training.
While networking isn’t explicitly training or education, it is going to make a massive difference in your career and goals. All of the above recommendations, from earning a degree to shadowing your coworkers, are an opportunity to network the right way.
Networking events where people go to meet others in their field are a great place to start but should never be the start-and-finish of your efforts.
Connect with those on your degree, connect with your educators, and connect with your coworkers. Stay up-to-date with what they are up to and stay social. If you can, help them out. Offering to help in any way or providing advice and recommendations without something in it for you is how you build strong relationships in your sector that can turn into job opportunities.
We all need to help each other out to reach new heights. Help others while you can, and when it’s your time to look for new opportunities, you’ll have a host of professionals that like you, see your value, and are happy to help out.