Learning New Skills on the Job
Can you develop new skills life skills at work? Sure you can! If this is your first time listening to the View 112 Podcast, I am employed full time. I am also a student, writer, intense reader and obviously podcaster. My plate is pretty full outside of work to learn additional skills beyond what I’m already doing. Still, I have thought about 3 new things I can learn while at work and getting paid that will improve my quality of life, make me a better contributor, leader, creator, and problem solver. Then, I’ll put out my challenge to you, up next to the View 112 Podcast.
Good Morning. Today is Monday September 11th. I just finished watching an observation for 9/11 on tv. I’m sure we all reflect back to that day such devastation hit our country and we’ve rebuilt and are stronger than ever. Still it was an event, we will never forget. To all of my friends in the Caribbean and Florida, you’ve had a long weekend. My thoughts and prayers and resources got out to you as well as your rebuild.
Last week I attended the Library of Congress National Book Festival at the Washington Convention Center. I wrote a blog post about my experience about it on view112.com. As you may recall one of the authors I went to see was Thomas Friedman. Two things he said resonated with me:
1.Being a life long learner is the largest competitive advantage in the accelerator age.
2.Biggest divide is the self motivation divide.
Gone are the days in which one can get a college degree and ride on that knowledge for the rest of their days. We all need to constantly acquire new skills. New skills that will make us better contributors, better leaders, better creators, and better problem solvers.
My first thought after listening to Friedman is that I’m on the right track. I am an advocate for development. I mean, that is what I talk about a lot on this podcast. I am also in school, studying a different major than before (English then, Management Studies now). After more consideration, I’ve have thought of ways I can challenge myself in my current role while at work to build new skills.My plate is full outside of work with school and writing, but while at work I can still skill build on the clock. Studies show that adults learn and retain information best through experiential learning. I will admit to being blessed. One of the great things about where I work is that it fosters and environment that is conducive to learning. There is an abundance of information and opportunity to develop and practice new skills all the time. So much so, that if you aren’t careful, these opportunities could be taken for granted. Before I share mine, my challenge to you this week is to analyze your work environment and see how you could be building new skills while actually doing your job. Look for skills that will make you a better contributor, leader, creator, or problem solver.
On the job skill #1: Languages
One of my long term goals is to become multi lingual. I’m a communication junkie, hence the reading and writing (podcasting too!). I have a plan that as soon as next year when I complete my degree that I will begin to use my educational assistance money toward learning new languages. I thought I would hold off until that time. Every single day at work I have the opportunity to learn quite a few languages very easily. No language is more accessible to me than Spanish. I’ve taken 7 years of Spanish in school in my life and I know tons of people who speak Spanish and meet customers that speak Spanish all of the time. I am going to brush up on my Spanish while at work. I have some experience doing this in the past. When I was in banking, I used to have a teller that was bi lingual. After learning that I wanted to speak the language, she only spoke to me in Spanish. While I struggled to understand her sometimes, this did help me brush up. I expanded my vocabulary and when I went to respond back she would correct me. I learned a lot of financial terms and sometimes I could help people (with basics) when she wasn’t around. That was 5 years ago and I remember a few things but since I’ve not been putting them into practice I don’t remember. I am going to do something similar while I’m at work now. I remember a leader that was learning Spanish and a few members of the team would only speak Spanish to him. Also, countless times a day I meet customers who only speak Spanish. Rather than even try to communicate, many times we look for team members who speak Spanish to help them. I’m going to start there with learning a few basic phrases to get the conversation started. I know a lot of people who speak Spanish but sometimes they are not always available. I could do a better job with connecting with people by trying to learn. Even using translation apps (which I encourage people to do all the time) will help YOU learn too.
On the job skill #2: Learning new technology
This one is a bit easier. I literally have an opportunity to do this every single day. Everyday, I am charged with inspiring my team to learn more and then sharing with customers. I can lead by example and do this with them. Everyday I can learn new things and share them with the team and customers. I can learn a new app or new feature. Things that are relevant and important to me, my interests, goals, workflow. I do this maybe once or twice a week but I could be more deliberate about it. Not only will this help me, but it will make me a better leader for them and our customers. When I mentioned earlier that learning on the job can be taken for granted, this is an example. I could go to work day after day and use the same apps and the same workflow and be pretty successful. Taking a few mins to brush up on something new and incorporating it into my workflow. I have an example. Something as simple as taking notes: I still take notes in the notes app or I use the app EverNote. I have never used dictation. I learned that this weekend while I was studying for a Biology quiz that I didn’t even enable dictation on my Mac yet and I’ve had this one for almost a year now. Its time to introduce dictation into my workflow. Learning this new skill would help me in my personal life, podcasting life, writing life, and at work. I’m here for that.
On the job skill #3: Coding
This one is a bit more difficult. I would not be able to full on code an app while I’m at work. Still, I have the opportunity to learn a few principles and basics. Like the names of the different types of coding languages (I only know a few). I could learn about the best apps, courses, and resources out there to teach people about coding. I know at least 4 people on my team that are in coding classes. I just had a fascinating conversation with a co worker who is passionate about developing her own app about the minority coding scene here in the DC area. I think starting here will give me a good idea about how I want to go about learning to code and what I want do with it. I meet parents and students all the time and computer science, coding, and overall computer literacy is a hot topic in the education community. My nephews (the world’s greatest) are 12 and 10 respectively and both are into coding. They’ve been to robotics clubs and camps. It’s the way of the future.
So these are 3 on the jobs skills I am going to work on developing. I can focus on these specifically while I am at work. They don’t take additional time while I am away from work to learn. This brings me back to my challenge for you. Take a look around at work this week. What are skills you could be learning while on the job? Again, this of skills that could make you a better contributor, leader, creator, or problem solver. Please share them with me. I’d love to know and get more ideas from you.
Thanks for listening. To share with me your ideas or ask me questions, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are enjoying the View 112 Podcast, please subscribe on Apple Podcasts, rate it, and tell everyone.