Does one’s formal education end when one walks out of the classroom? The correct answer is of course not!
No matter the profession, in today’s specialization driven world, keeping up with current trends, techniques and technologies is an absolute requirement to stay ahead of the curve, no exceptions.
How does one go about improving themselves, their skills and their marketability once they’ve escaped the formal education system? Well, jump right back in! Pursue a higher degree or specialization by attending grad school or a technical school for an immediately marketable skill-set. Consider shooting for your Bachelors or Masters degree. If you happen to be a programmer like myself, keeping immersed and current within the ever-evolving software world is vital to my success.
1.) The lowdown on Formal Education
- Structured and paced time blocks devoted to your field of study.
- Supportive community consisting of mentors/professors and classmates.
- Lags behind in certain fields
- Can be costly
Personally, I’ve completed my walk through the halls and fires of my B.S. Computer Science degree. Who knows, perhaps a Master’s lies within my future.
2.) Community driven education
- More time efficient
- Learning through community resources can be less intimidating
- Less Costly
- Less structured
- More dependent on self-motivation and commitment
Just this past weekend, my coworker & I attended a local community event, the Front End Design Conference & Workshop in Downtown St. Petersburg, FL. The wonderful speakers, organizers and attendees at #frontendconf were an invaluable resource for the latest and greatest trends and techniques in modern web design.
In many classrooms, the curriculums are often pre-set in advance and most, if not all, of your fellow students are new to the subject material.
In this low cost informal workshop however, I found that both the speakers and attendees were capable of answering questions relating to the latest and greatest techniques of my field!
One speaker giving a presentation on SMACSS (Scalable and Modular Architecture for CSS) had to update her slides the very morning of her presentation as a new update to SMACSS had just been released by its developer the evening prior!
Having the knowledge base of the community readily available to you and answers to questions on the brand new Ruby on Rails library update released just days prior is near indescribable.
Sharing is one of the greatest ways to learn! Learn from others and one day give back by sharing what you’ve learned.
3.) Commitment, Commitment, Commitment
Of course, regardless of the path you choose to improve your own skills and toolset, you must commit! Those who don’t keep up with latest trends are often the ones who struggle to stay employed.
Always set aside a block of time each month to maintaining and improving your toolbox.
Keeping technical & business skills current and relevant is a necessity for employers. It’s oftentimes easy for companies to give the go-ahead on training when business is booming and profits are high. It is often a much tougher call when trying to squeeze every dollar out of the bottom line. In today’s ever changing world however, ongoing training isn’t a luxury, but a necessity.