But I think today's lesson is far more important than the subjects I've touched on in the past (subjects like internships, volunteering, freelancing, and using Facebook professionally):
You need to be willing to learn about anything and everything on the job.
The specific example that brought this to my attention today?
So, with multiple pages to manage, and wanting to schedule updates during hours I'm not in the office, I went to Hootsuite. Now, I'm not a total stranger to the site - or rather, the idea of it. But today was the first time I could log in, make and account, and actually use this wonderful resource. Prior to today, I managed a page or two on Facebook for companies, and that was it. As a student, I could post whenever I wanted - I had a flexible schedule. I didn't need Hootsuite.
That's all changed, and as a result, I'm already in love with this wonderful site, which will help me exponentially when managing updates and seeing who is talking about the company I work for - meaning I now have the ability to communicate with others more easily, and can engage in more dialogues online that will reflect positively on my company. I can make sure that we provide good service to our supporters, and our supporters will feel more appreciated and recognized because their voices online will be heard.
As for me, I get to update my résumé and say I've used Hootsuite (finally!). Win-win for everyone!
This is only one example of what I mean by "learning on the job" - in this case, it's about learning how to manage social media pages with the tools available. But this is just one specific example at a job where every day, I learn about business operations and what's happening in my city business-wise.
And really, I think this example ties into another overarching idea. At the end of the day, something for all of us graduates to remember is that even if a job description isn't our dream job, we can make it our own - easily - if we show interest and showcase our talents. Remember, I interviewed for an Administrative Assistant job that merely required flexibility, an ability to edit things, and to answer the phones. In a short period of time, I've transformed the position into something closer to what I imagine my dream job to be: I not only do the normal duties as described, but I design flyers and collateral materials for events as well as manage the company's social media.
And so, I'm not only learning on the job - I'm making opportunities for me to learn on the job on a daily basis. That can be just as - if not more - important as actually learning. The truth is that even if you interview for one job, at small companies in particular, the chances that someone working in the position you truly crave will share their responsibilities with you; they're surely busy and overwhelmed (I know my coworkers and I often feel this way). By actively saying, "I can help with this," or even asking, "Can you teach me a little about what you do?" you're creating opportunities for you to learn. Even if you're not an expert (hey, we all have to start somewhere), chances are that you'll have some good ideas to contribute, at minimum.
I certainly don't pretend to be an expert in my field of interest (yet) - but I want to be. That's why I do two things on a regular basis: read blogs related to my fields of interest, and then think about how I can apply what I'm learning from those blogs during my day at my job.
As a result, I can honestly say that so far, my efforts to update my company's social media have been massively impressive. And for me personally, knowing that I am in some control of what I do, and knowing that I can work with the parts of the working world I love while also tackling necessary office duties, lets me go home at the end feeling proud and accomplished. I'm not just working - I'm exploring my own career interests.
I can only hope this short story inspires other graduates to do the same - remember, don't just learn on the job: make your own opportunities to learn on the job.
Do you have any stories about your own career? What about people you know - how are you learning at the job and carving out opportunities to do so?