Build Your Career with a “Real” Education… After Graduation

Fall is an exciting time… college towns have been buzzing with the excitement of students going back to school, already dealing with the challenges of another year.

Many of us already in the workforce, though, aren’t going back to school. And yet… we never stop learning.

No matter what industry we work in, we always have more to learn. Trends and information change quickly; if we don’t keep up… we’re left behind. The good news: there are simple ways to learn outside the classroom. Doing so ensures that we remain a valuable, knowledgeable resource for our company and colleagues.

Watch and Listen

Sometimes when we get home from work, all we want to do is curl up in the La-Z-Boy with a six-pack of PBR and watch “The Bachelor Pad”. The problem with this (other than the obvious bad choices of PBR and reality television) is that we aren’t stimulating our brains.

Keep informed. Stay current on the news – national, industry specific and worldwide. This doesn’t mean we have to suffer through the lackluster local news, however; get your news via Hulu or other subscription services. Or, watch your favorite satire like The Daily Show or the Colbert Report (under all that satire are substantial and timely topics).

Another favorite of mine for education through listening: On BTR, industry experts from all over the world talk about what they know – much to our benefit. Just do a search; you’re sure to find several programs that interest you.

Read More… (A Lot More)

“The man who does not read books has no advantage over the man that cannot read them.”

                                                                    – Mark Twain (smart guy; self-educated)

To make sure they’re informed and constantly stimulated, successful business people read a lot… quickly; the amount of information executive-level talent reads is staggering. Throw that reading on top of what you already consume for work… and you may soon realize that even then you don’t read nearly enough to stay on top of your industry (I definitely don’t). Search for industry blogs you can read regularly (and start a conversation – leave a comment!). Join relevant Twitter chats and Google+ hangouts, or find online courses to further your education specific to your industry.

We tell ourselves we don’t have time… but often we do! Make time by recording Bachelor Pad, or watch it online this weekend. On Monday night, instead of TV, pick up a book or magazine and work brain cells you haven’t used in a while. You will get smarter and you can impress your friends by engaging in a meaningful conversation. (Although… your current circle of friends may find it strange that you don’t know who got voted off the show last night).

Meet as Many People as Possible

I don’t mean you should walk down the street yelling “Hey, I’m Jane Doe and you should be my friend!” Instead, if you’re at a party and overhear someone discussing a subject you have in common, find a polite way to insert yourself into the conversation. Network, network, network. You never know how you may be able to help that person in their life or job… and someday, they may return the favor.


I know this sounds like simplistic advice, but in our digital age nothing provides a quicker learning experience than our friend Google. Search for trending topics and read a few articles that pop up. Look up the definition of that new word you heard today. When your team runs into a challenge, search for a (free) help forum to find a solution. In many cases, you can also find an instruction video on YouTube that will walk you through a repair, design or coding issue. You don’t even have to tell your colleagues you used Google… you can just let them think, “Dang, she’s smart!”

“I never let my schooling interfere with my education.”

                                                                                                       – Mark Twain

You don’t have to be in school to continue your education.

Use the resources around you to further develop your knowledge about your industry and job. The people with whom you interact on a regular basis (whether in-person, through social media, or otherwise) will soon notice the increase in your knowledge and skills. This will strengthen your personal brand – and further build your career.


About the Author: Erica Roberts graduated from Oregon State University in 2011 with a B.S. in Marketing. She is an avid reader and writer, and is extremely passionate about social media. Erica currently works as a social media consultant for several clients, and is a social media coordinator with YouTern. Connect with Erica on LinkedIn and Twitter.

“Google All the Things” pic courtesy of


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