Written by Constance Short
So you’ve graduated some time ago and are five-plus years into your graduate career. Learnt on the job, got a steady income and are learning to adult beyond cooking two-minute noodles for dinner? But something is missing – and it’s not your student discounts – it’s continual learning.
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young”- Henry Ford.
Your formal education or schooling is only one mode of learning. There are countless opportunities to further your knowledge and develop the skills you need throughout life and your media and communications career. By all means you’ll learn on the job and from life experiences, but to improve employability, enhance your cognitive skills and develop personally, you need to actively engage in continual learning.
Lifelong learning is the process of conscious continuous learning throughout life which benefits both you and your immediate community (i.e. friends, family, workplace). Research has proven it leads to a continuous lifelong development of quality of life and falls within the highest fundamental need in Maslow’s hierarchy as fundamental to develop both personally and professionally.
There are countless ways to follow the path of lifelong learning, engaging and taking on new learnings:
1. Read widely and often
A no brainer to many but reading newspapers, magazines, think-pieces, novels, encyclopaedias or self-help bibles will broaden your mind generally, spark a depth of knowledge in specific topics, promote conversation and offer a degree of confidence generally.
2. Listen in to podcasts
Make use of that commute and travel time to work by swapping out that playlist for a podcast. Podcasts are by and large offered for free, trumping eBooks in both accessibility and sheer content. Instead of stories, podcasts predominantly are conversations covering everything from politics to sport, relationship advice and budgeting to murder mysteries.
3. Learn a foreign language
Undertaking a second language has social, economic and mental benefits, improving your memory and making your mind more engaged. From basic handbooks, to websites, classes and apps there are options for every professional no matter their schedule
4. Take advantage of free online courses
Want a free, flexible course which you can undertake anytime, anywhere? Try an online course. Avoid another HECs debt and take on courses related to anything, not just your industry field. UQx, Coursera and even LinkedIn provide free online courses to keep you learning.
5. Join a mentorship program
Engaging and networking with senior or emerging professionals in your field will not only benefit you, but others as well. Talking to people who have been where you are currently in your career or offer advice to those yearning to be in your shoes will offer you more insight into your industry and give you more confidence in yourself.
6. Volunteer Your Time
A great way to apply your skillset to a passion or project outside your work, volunteering can be done by rolling up your sleeves to help those less fortunate, sitting on an organisational committee for events or guest lecturing at your university to name a few! Not only will these reward yourself personally, it is also a way to give back to others.
7. Attend networking events
Defined as a career investment, these events post-university are more beneficial than ever. Hosted now by your industry peers (than just potential employers), associations or related to your target market are a great learning ploy in many aspects: build business (or social) relationships with like minded industry peers, connect with influencers, recruit new employees, catch-up with friends and stay atop of industry trends and news. Such knowledge and connections can easily offer you a leg up in the competition and connect you to new people.