Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Lack of Learning

Hop the bus, walk to my office, grab my coffee, sit down, answer emails, take the occasional pee-pee break, work on my project for the time being, eat some lunch at my desk, answer more emails, spend time on conference calls, pack up, walk to the bus, ride bus home, and that's the end of my work day.

I'm sure most people in the business world have similar work days at whatever job it is that they do. There really isn't too much of a complaint buried in that first paragraph, but I will say that the same routine eventually wears on you and can keep you from feeling motivated to do much of anything after too many repeats. One thing that I see sorely missing from that list, however, is an opportunity to learn. I'm not talking about learning the newest little feature in Power Point or picking up a new trick to get one of your daily routines done 12.4 seconds quicker. No, I'm talking about actually digging into a topic and embedding new knowledge into your skull.

I was one of the fortunate, or maybe unfortunate I guess, kids that actually enjoyed the heck out of school--both high school and college. Sure, everyone enjoys college for the loads of free time, the almost complete freedom, the copious amounts of alcohol flowing throughout campus, and the random hook-ups with girls in the dorm around the corner, but no one really ever likes classes and homework. I did.

When it came time to write a paper, more often than not I had it done at least a few days before it was due. In class, instead of shaking off a brutal hangover, I was paying attention and, God forbid, actually participating. I loved soaking up knowledge into my brain and using it for something.

Now, I don't get that any more. The position I am at right now I landed because of the knowledge I already had. The company I work for wanted that knowledge and wanted me to put it to use for them, which is what I've been doing. There have been times I've picked up some new nuggets of interesting info to file away in my brain, but usually I'm stuck using the same knowledge I have over and over again.

Being at this position for almost a year now, I'm starting to wonder if I'm going to have any real opportunities any time soon to dive head first into a totally new realm or field. It seems like the modern work environment doesn't value openly educating workers in something that might not directly and immediately benefit the bottom line. I'd love to go back to grad school and pick up my MBA, but I'd have to do it on my own time and I know I don't have enough free time to make it work.

Wouldn't it be great if work would let me perform what I usually do for half the day or 3/4 of the day and the remaining time I could dedicate to educating myself for my grad school classes? I'd still have to use some personal time to achieve my goal of completing grad school, but it would be easier for two reasons -- 1) I have some time at work to do what I need to do for my grad school classes and 2) I am more motivated because of the interest and support from my employer. It's very gratifying to learn, but even more so when it is part of your job.

So how do you get an employer to buy into educating one of their employees? That's the real question and the tough task at hand. It would be wonderful if in that first paragraph I could toss in "read new materials, research new information, create a composition of the last two topics you covered, etc." every now and again. If only...

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