By Robin Fisher Roffer
My 13-year-old daughter is studying to become a Bat Mitzvah. Helping her reach this milestone has been incredibly rewarding. The experience has made me think about the joy of learning and it has inspired me to talk to you about the virtues of becoming an adult student. This subject is critical because if you’re feeling that your profession may not be relevant in five years or you are hankering to do something completely different, then you are probably among the 60% of Americans who are considering going back to school.
Maybe you just need to brush up your skills in a certain area or you want to learn what sales, marketing and customer engagement means now. If so, I invite you to sharpen your saw. Becoming stale, complacent, stagnant—these options are unworthy of you. So what you are going to do to stay in step with the ever-changing business environment? My advice and that of Jim Maxwell at Bellevue University is to find a classroom near you.
Recently, Bellevue completed a study revealing that adults 25 – 54 are struggling the most in this economy. In fact, 23% of working adults are unhappy in their jobs. They report wanting to change the type of work they do in favor of something they actually enjoy. Sound familiar?
Then there are the millions of Americans who are out of work – who have been displaced across industries that are in decline. If you count yourself among these folks, you need to deal with the changes, and take action now, so you can secure a job in an industry that is growing. That action most definitely will involve going back to school.
Here’s Jim’s advice to adult learners:
- Don’t just get “a degree.” Find something that fuels your passion and is relevant to the market – a degree that employers will respect and value.
- Look for a program that’s flexible so that you can continue to work. That may mean online courses or finding a classroom with adult learners.
- You’ll want to make sure that whatever program you get into isn’t just about theory, but it gives you a chance to put theory into practice.
- Find a school that can help you make connections so that you graduate with more than a degree, but real world experience and a job.
I know you’ll be tempted to go for an MBA, but before you do, dig deep to find a degree that matches your strengths, not just one that looks good on a resume. You’ll also want to explore which degrees will be in demand in 2018 and beyond. You can check out this study to learn more.
Whether you go to grad school or not, you need to be ready, not rusty for what’s next. Change is everywhere and you can’t predict what’s around the corner. That’s why it’s so important to keep learning, make connections through volunteering, join a team sport, attend conferences or teach a class. Or, like my daughter, learn a language and open yourself up to new ways of thinking.
It’s time to think of the actions you can take to reach your next peak and resist that doubting voice. When you stop being afraid of change, and you get in step with the ever-changing business environment, the landscape of what’s foreign to you shrinks—and so does the distance between you, others and your career destiny.
Robin Fisher Roffer, founder and CEO of Big Fish Marketing, is America's leading personal brand strategist for executive level career professionals. She's the best selling author of 3 books including The Fearless Fish Out Of Water: How To Succeed When You're The Only One Like You. Discover Robin's secret formula for igniting your career with a personal brand at 8 Steps To Igniting Your Personal Brand.