Learning is Fundamental - Why and How to Keep Learning Long After Graduation

Career Cooperative, How to Keep Learning After Graduation_Career Coach

While you may have turned in your last term paper and never plan to open those cumbersome texts book again, graduation does not mark the end of your education. Can you imagine if we all stopped learning at 23? The world would be a MUCH different place. Most college graduates have just started to explore their interests, and will only continue to mature, explore and develop as they move forward in their careers. As a new graduate, now is the time to explore and be curious! You never know what hidden talents or interests you might uncover that could lead you to dream job opportunities.

What’s more is that creating habits of continued learning now will only benefit you throughout your career (and really, life), guess what ranks amongst the top soft-skills recruiters and hiring managers are looking for in potential candidates? A love of learning, and the self-starting gumption to make the learning happen. And have you heard of the ‘Five-Hour Rule?’ Coined by Michael Simmons, founder of Empact, it’s a simple rule that some of the most successful leaders today use— devote five hours every week to learning. After college, five hours a week seems easy, right?

So, whether you are still basking in the just-graduated glow of summer, have jumped into the deep-end of a job search, or are getting your feet wet in your first job out of college, here are our favorite ways to keep learning post-graduation:

1) Get a mentor— this is a fulfilling and mostly FREE way to keep learning (it’s a great idea to buy a meal or a coffee for your mentor). Having someone with experience to guide you, be a mirror, and ask you the tough questions is invaluable in the development of your career. Mentors are also an important pillar in your growing community (you can find more on the power of community here).

This person should be: 1) willing to share their expertise; 2) a positive role model; 3) have an interest in developing a relationship with you; 4) demonstrate leadership and growth in their field; 5) able to give you feedback— good, bad and otherwise; 6) well-respected by peers; 7) knows a thing or two about setting and achieving goals

2) Read!— these can be books related to professional development or publications and newsletters related to general business or your industry. 

Some of our favorites books right now: 

Some of our favorite publications/Newsletters:

3) Listen to podcasts— Podcasts are a great way to get information in short-form, and can also be a perfect companion to your midday walk. 

  • WithoutFail: Candid conversations with artists, athletes and visionaries of all kinds— about their successes, their failures, and what they learned from both.

  • Career Relaunch: Inspiring stories of career reinvention

  • Going Through It: Inspiring interviews that answer the question, “Do I quit or keep going?” 

  • Creative Processing: exploring the nitty-gritty of how a wide variety of creative people do what they do. 

  • The Stakes: A show about what it takes to create change— why we live the way we do, and why it matters.

  • How I Built This: Go behind-the-scenes at some of the most well-known companies and learn more about innovators, entrepreneurs and idealists—and the movements they built.

4) Ask questions and take on new projects essentially, be curious!

If you don’t already have regular one-to-ones with your direct supervisor, put one on the calendar! These meetings are a great time to check-in on your work, get feedback, and ask to be a part of other initiatives or committees that are exciting to you. This could be as simple as asking to shadow someone in a different department for a day, or to be a part of the planning committee for the company’s annual retreat. It all depends on your interests and the opportunities available in your company!

5) Volunteer—  it’s a great way to try something new.

Volunteering is a great way to engage with a new network of people outside of your immediate personal and professional contacts. Volunteering also allows you to explore other industries and types of roles you may be interested in, and build additional skills outside of the role you are in our pursuing.

Whew! That was a lot of information. How do you continue to learn throughout your career? Did we miss anything on your list? We’d love to hear from you! jenna@careercooperative.com and dana@careercooperative.com


Dana Hundley