Being ‘educated’ is something that different people view differently. You might think education is a waste of time (you learn more working), or it’s too expensive, or alternatively – it’s a wonderful life experience. Many of us put ‘education’ in a box, thinking that it means finishing high school, earning a degree or diploma, or doing a certificate that you can easily put on your resume. However, the fact is that ‘educating’ ourselves is actually about learning – and not just facts, but practical skills that we need in our day-to-day life, at work, to deal with relationships, and to personally self-improve. When we look at education through a lens of ‘learning’, we may be able to see that there are so many ways that we can do this, and do it easily!
And the fact is – our world is getting more and more educated by the year, with Gen Y’s (or ‘millennials’ – those born between 1981-1999) becoming the most educated generation in history, with (according to Forbes) 23% of them holding a bachelor degree or higher. BUT – what we can also learn from Gen Y’s, is the ability to seek information, and learn through different ways – ways in which their parent’s did not have access to. So, using the resources at our disposal, we really don’t have a lot of excuses not to learn new things and new skills that are available to most households – all it takes, really, is the investment of a little time.
- Read: Despite popular belief, Gen-Y’s actually out-read the older generations, and are seen to be the most ‘literate’ generation in history (see: http://goo.gl/rUOOGE or http://goo.gl/auxtkC for more). Yes, Gen-Y’s are less likely to spend time at the library – but they read to find out what they want or need to know. If you are interested in a certain topic, then read up on it – books, blogs, websites, articles, white papers – in order to develop an understanding about that topic, and develop your stance on it. Think about the books that you read, because they tell something about you – and if you don’t read much, then invest in your interests by doing so. If you want to be a better Manager at work, then read up leadership in the workplace. If you want to learn about how to do home finances, find a suitable book that can give you practical tips. If you want to change career to something more suited to your interests, read blogs about people in that industry. Reading keeps us on-track, and keeps us informed.
- Do a short course: Okay, some of these cost money – but not all of them! You would be surprised how many courses there are available teaching you important skills that might be free or at a very cheap price. In most cities, there are education institutions offering all kinds of short courses that you can do, and even some universities offer this. In Melbourne, General Assembly (https://generalassemb.ly/) offer lots of relevant courses to beef up your work skills, the CAE (http://www.cae.edu.au/Pages/default.aspx -) offer courses in languages, cooking, photography or other ‘cultural’ skills. And – if you don’t want to get off the couch (because sometimes we don’t!) or you need to be at home, then there lots of online courses you can sink your teeth into, offered through universities, TAFE’s, or online education platforms. These are often cheap and easy, and can give you that expertise, fun, or the skills you need to excel in work and life!
- YouTube: Yes, YouTube can be more than just a funny video platform to procrastinate at work or talk about at a dinner party! YouTube is filled with speeches, practical ‘how-to’ videos, interesting content, language series – you name it! YouTube is also a great way to investigate something that you’re interested in before you may take the plunge into investing more time or money into a certain thing.
- Talk to experts: With their ‘impatience’, Gen-Y’s often want to know something now, now, now! Thus, if they can’t get the information online or in a book, they will often be proactive in seeking knowledge through asking people. The older generations have paved the way for Gen-Y’s in terms of teaching them the importance of networking – but the Gen-Y’s have taken this to a whole new level. Social networking has meant that if someone doesn’t know a piece of information or wants to seek advice, they may do this in many ways, such as writing on an online forum. You can also do this by simply taking someone for drinks or coffee – someone from a different department, or a friend of a friend that has knowledge or expertise in what you’re interested in exploring. Asking questions and gathering insight is crucial to educating ourselves, as this is where we find the relational, real aspects to knowledge – particularly if are wanting to change careers, go into a niche area, get knowledge about parenting or relationships or personal development, or want to develop a business idea…this all comes from talking with people who have ‘been there, done that’ and that have the experience to share with you. And doing this may not just develop your knowledge and insight, but might even expand and develop your networks to new territories!
- Be open to development opportunities: Gen-Y’s are also said to be ‘demanding’ – they often know what they want (and sometimes think that they also deserve it 😉 It might just take one conversation with your manager, parent, or partner, in order to reveal the opportunities you have for educating yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask about simple ways that you can develop yourself personally and professionally. Your local community network may be running an interesting course on marriage or your work may be offering a Project Management course for employees – so take it up! Make the effort to explore these opportunities, and jump on them when they come up!
A little investment in educating yourself can go a long way in you reaching your goals – so invest! You never know where it might lead 🙂
*This article was written by a Gen-Y 😉