Y ou’re a member of the class of 2008. The commencement speaker no doubt congratulated you for completing studies that prepared you for “the real world.” You were ready to begin your chosen career.
Now, it’s 10 years from that graduation. How relevant was what you learned for today’s job? Relevance has a half-life you didn’t expect. In this rapidly changing world, the half-life is shorter than expected across all professions, from engineering to political science and from chemistry to psychology.
You’ve added to your skills with workshops, special courses and some targeted reading. Is it enough to keep pace with rapidly occurring changes in the labor market? Do you need to return to college for more courses or for an MA or MBA?
These are not easy questions. Answering them requires knowing where you want to be in five years. Unfortunately, the choices are numerous, and your high school or college courses were only an introduction. Whatever your final career goal, you’ll need more information before you can make such an important decision.
Do you need help making that decision? To whom do you turn? Perhaps a mentor, former instructor, best friend, spouse or even a parent you may be emulating. All of those — anyone who has a vested interest in you and your work — could be a good resource. Talk with all of them about the additional development you might need to reach your goal. Listen, and follow the path you feel is best. You are free to take the programs you wish and the courses you want from the variety of educational options, from traditional to alternative.
Many of the alternative programs are online and can be tailored around your schedule. Programs offered by your employer can augment your career. Massive open online courses — MOOCs, available on a variety of platforms, including edX, Coursera, Udemy and Lynda — are expanding and offer a variety of courses intending to provide programs to improve career knowledge. There are efforts to also improve the right credentials for a variety of careers. Certificate programs offered by associations for the professions they represent are also expanding as a way of telling the public you are approved to perform specific services, ranging from cosmetology to coaching.
Take charge of your career. The opportunities are wide open for you to choose what’s best for your career growth, or for what interests you, to round out your social skills. Technical qualifications will get you into a workplace; social skills keep you there.
You can look forward to celebrating another commencement — one based on your own ambition and determination through alternative online educational resources. Congratulations and much success in the years ahead.