Recent college graduates have a lot on their plates. Many will be moving to new cities to take on new jobs, while others will begin a deep-dive into finding the right one. Once that job is secured, there’s still more to learn. Many graduates soon discover that individual jobs bring challenges not necessarily covered in Probability & Statistics or Contracting 101. Taking advantage of post-graduate training can save the day.
College Provides a Backbone (But Not the Ribs)
Think of college as providing a sturdy backbone to support your efforts to earn a living. It’s the ribs that need extra support to fully develop. Many employers understand this. They provide learning opportunities such as attending seminars and assigning mentors to new employees. Take advantage of these whenever they are offered.
Unlike college courses, corporate training covers specific items that can boost your success in the job you have or prepare you to advance. Plus, your employer wants you to take advantage of this benefit (and it is a benefit). According to Forbes, spending on corporate training has been steadily growing since 2011 because of a skills gap between college graduates’ knowledge and capabilities and what’s needed in a fast-changing “real” world. No one’s knocking your education; it’s just that the world changes quickly over the course of a four-year-plus degree.
Check your company’s informal educational opportunities as well, such as brown-bag (or even catered!) lunches. At these, an expert discusses anything from the 401(k) to a topic specific to the business itself. Attend these events, even if they aren’t directly related to your job. You’ll not only learn about another part of the company, you’ll make useful connections outside your department.
Seek Education and Training Opportunities From Outside Experts
If your company doesn’t offer much in your field to help you advance, look for classes on your own. You may even be able to get your company to pay for a couple. And if you’re still looking for work, public training seminars are a great way to gain current expertise to put on your resume and make a few connections.
For example, if you are interested in finance, investigate training opportunities with some of the big players like Moody’s Analytics, which offers seminars in major cities all over the world. Even if you took these courses in college, this is up-to-the-minute, deep-level information from experts working in the finance fields. Plus, you will undoubtedly meet some great connections to LinkIn with.
Look for online training as well. Microsoft Virtual Academy offers free online IT training organized by topics (cloud apps, virtualization) and specific products. Then there’s Udemy, which offers free and fee-based training; most courses are under $500.
You can also write-off a lot of work-related education costs if you pay for them yourself. The IRS allows this even if the training can lead to a degree. Of course, you should check with an accountant to be certain.
Volunteering Strengthens the Volunteer and Organization
Another option is to volunteer with a group or organization that can use your skills and get you noticed. If you build websites, there is no shortage of small nonprofits that need better sites. And involvement with the local community is valuable. According to the University of California at San Diego, volunteers reap these benefits:
- Professional experience for those starting out
- Reduced stress, something useful for those looking for work
- Promotes personal growth and self-esteem
- Learning opportunities about how governments, agencies and other organizations operate