Beyond the classroom: why continual education matters

woman studying, learning

Article provided by Oksana Afonina, Senior Director of EMEA Growth at AppLovin

Whether you finished education in Year 13 or university, it’s normal to consider this part of your life finished as you enter the workforce.

The truth is, education is crucial for personal development and career progression. While education requires time and commitment, education is the best way to invest in yourself and improve your skill-set. Whether it’s online courses in soft skills or returning to the classroom for a postgraduate degree, education matters at every level and has a major part to play in your career.

Here are a few lessons I have learned in my career about challenging yourself and enabling others to further their own development.

Education goes far beyond the curriculum

It can be easy to focus on traditional subjects when we think about education – but the possibilities extend far beyond English, Maths, and Science. When I moved into a managerial role, I realised there was a specific set of skills I needed, which my education hadn’t equipped me with. As a result, I’m currently completing an Advanced Diploma in Personal, Leadership, and Executive Coaching to help me become a better leader.

The technology and mobile games industries are subject to constant change and make continuing education even more crucial. With rapid and constant change, workers in these fields must learn new skills in order to be effective at their jobs.

One quality I look for when hiring is the willingness and drive to learn. Valuing education and learning allows employees to grow into leadership positions and provides skills they can use throughout their careers.

Don’t stick to the status quo

There is no limit to your learning or potential and it’s better for your self-development to go beyond the skill-set you have. I challenge myself to regularly identify new skills to learn and consider the best way to achieve them. This also extends to encouraging my team to do the same, and they have benefited from courses on time management, mentorship, project management, and other skills. There’s no shortage of resources out there if you’re starting out—For example, LinkedIn have a great number of entry-level courses for beginners.

The importance of role models

I try to be a role model for my team as I have been lucky enough to have had mentors who played a significant part in my career. A manager at my first job gave me my foundation in marketing and sales, but it was her work ethic, creativity, self-education, and teamwork that influenced me the most. This is the type of guidance I try to impart on my team as being competent in your role is only a fraction of what it takes to succeed in the workplace.

While it’s typical to think of mentors as the teachers and mentees as students, the mentor/mentee relationship goes both ways. Never discount what you can learn from your mentees, as they can provide a valuable perspective to help you grow as a mentor.

Balancing work with self-development

One of the biggest concerns around studying is fitting it in between work and home life. It’s something I’ve always prioritised and now it just comes naturally, but may not be for others. One reason self-development doesn’t feel like a chore for me is that I find learning fun and treat it as more of a hobby to grow and better myself instead of work. By treating self-development this way, it’s much easier to prioritise it instead of feeling like it’s a chore. Stay focused, keep an eye on your goals, and enjoy achieving them. Without investing significant time in personal development, you will find your career reaching a plateau.

Education is the foundation of any personal development, whether that be technical skills related to your role or softer skills that help you develop as a leader. There really is no better way to invest in yourself and demonstrate your ambition than to make time to learn. Education has helped me during every stage of my career and I have no doubt that a commitment to learning will make you a better employee and mentor too.

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