By Lauren | May 29, 2017 | 0 Comment
I’ve always been a strong believer in continuing your education, and I’ve always said that you should never stop learning, no matter how far along in your career you are, but one thing that you can’t ignore is the importance of real experience.
I went to college for three years to receive an advanced diploma, then did a post-graduate certificate for one year, and later on, did a university certificate part-time while I was already in my career. After many years of education, and several thousands of dollars spent, the one thing that has landed me a job every time has not necessarily been my education, it’s been my experience—whether volunteer or work.
The job market has come a long way—employers no longer require you to have a degree from a fancy university. Employers realize that your educational background doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re qualified or unqualified for a job, so grads need to stop depending on this and this alone. In fact, even though I learned a lot of valuable things in school, and even though I work in the industry I went to school for, I’ve rarely used anything I learned in school in my day-to-day job. School definitely taught me many transferable skills like professionalism, public speaking, and business writing, but the most valuable things I’ve learned have been on the job or in other things I got involved in such as blogging, or freelance work.
Now don’t get me wrong, it’s still important to have an education, and having an education related to the field you want to go into also helps, but your extra-curricular activities, jobs, and volunteer experience is going to be what sets you apart from the crowd. There’s only so much you can learn in the four walls of a classroom from a book, and for most careers, employers realize that. So when I say to never stop learning, I don’t necessarily mean that the only learning you can do is through school—learning can be as simple as going for coffee with someone from LinkedIn or Ten Thousand Coffees.
At the end of the day, no degree or diploma (unless you’re in a field that absolutely requires it like medical, or law), will ever be as valuable as the skills and learnings you gain from hands-on, real world experience. So no matter what stage of your career you’re in, don’t stop finding opportunities to continue to develop professionally and personally. Join a professional association, volunteer for an event or organization in your area, go for coffee with someone in a different department at your work—there are chances to learn all around you, and not all of them will cost you an arm and leg (and student debt) to take advantage of. Plus, you never know when that event you volunteered for or that guest blog post you wrote somewhere may bring new and exciting opportunities your way.
This post was originally written for Ten Thousand Coffees.