It is almost impossible to believe that the summer is coming to
an end. In another couple of weeks children will be returning to school
with new notebooks, backpacks and, hopefully, a little bit of
excitement towards what they will learn this year. Whether you
are watching your own children go off to school or merely watching
the neighborhood children, this month is a good one to go back
to school yourself. Nothing succeeds in the high-tech career market
like knowledge, so send yourself back to school.
Going back to school need not take anything more than your time.
Perhaps you have been meaning to learn a bit more about some technology,
but found yourself overwhelmed with life and work pressures. We
all tend to have too many things clamoring for too little time.
Still, increasing your work skills should hold some level of priority
in your life. These skills are what will allow you to earn more
and work on projects that mean something to you.
One easy first step is to visit your local library. Ask the reference
librarian to point you to the "computer books." There you will
find a multitude of topics to choose from. Do you want to learn
how to program ASP web pages so that you can give your clients
more useful web sites? Do you need a quick brush-up on Adobe Photoshop
to help you get those new product shots into the company catalog?
Perhaps you just need to learn how to update your MS Word documents
more quickly. Use the library books to develop your own curriculum.
Better yet, check a few of the books out and get started this
You need not dedicate long hours to your studies. Steal a few
minutes away from the television to read a few pages. Carry a
book with you so the next time you are waiting in line you can
learn a little while decreasing your boredom level. Try to learn
one small item each day. At the end of the year you will have
accumulated 365 new bits of information that can make you a better
I tend to like the method above for exploring new areas, but some
of you will find it better to set aside scheduled time and attention
for learning. Classes can help you learn necessary skills more
quickly. Some of us just work better when we are under a deadline.
Once you have chosen a basic area of interest, the best way to
select a course is by getting a recommendation from someone who
has taken the same or similar course or had the same instructor.
Word of mouth referrals can help you avoid poorly organized classes
and instructors who don't measure up. If your friends can't offer
any recommendations you will need to ask the school or the instructor
for letters of recommendation.
Regardless of the class you choose, you will want to take every
opportunity to interact with the instructor both inside and outside
of class. Perhaps they will take questions via email or voice
mail. When you are paying for a class you want to insure that
you make your money count.
More to the world
Finally, please remember that there is more to the world than
high-tech issues. While you are in the library check out other
books that interest you. Perhaps you have always wondered how
furniture is made, books are written or antiques are sold. Maybe
a book about the art of Monet catches your eye. I find that combining
technical learning with creative learning increases my appreciation
of both. You never know how the development of painting styles
might relate to the development of software. More than once I
have solved a daunting technical problem due to my reading in
another, unrelated area. Too much of anything is a bad thing.Don't
confine your learning to strictly high-tech areas.
There are never-ending cycles in the world and in our lives. Fall
is a time for going back to school, another year older and, hopefully,
another year wiser. This time, though, you will find yourself
being both teacher and student. If it helps you to get in the
mood, you can even dig out your old Scooby Doo or Monkee's lunchbox
and don't forget to bring an apple for the teacher.