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One essential skill that helps you to thrive in demanding work environment

When I was in college, my seniors who had graduated said that in general we would only use around 20% of what we learned in college on actual work. I bet some of you have heard this before.

Did you believe what they said it?

I did not!

Until… Until I experienced it myself.

After some thoughts, I come up with two hypothesis why this happens.

Firstly, the industry is changing very rapidly. With increasing mobility of talent, most of companies require their workers to be able to collaborate in diverse environment. With limitation of human judgement, we are pushed to be more data driven in decision making. Not to mention, some of our engineering friends need to constantly update their technical skills due to increasing complexity in our tech landscape. Sound like a lot things to learn, huh?

Secondly, education institutions have not really caught up with rapid changes in the industry. Several universities reached out to their alumni and asking how they can improve their curriculum. However, modifying curriculum would take some time. It is always more tempting to blame it to other people but it’s more productive for us, who are in working force to be more proactive to approach this situation.

I have a good news for you! It is actually possible for us to stay relevant in this demanding workplace.

The key is to become a passionate learner.

Being a passionate learner means always having the willingness to acquire knowledge. It also means not letting obstacles (one of named laziness) stop you. Let me share one of my most favourite example for this.

One day I had a conversation with a friend of mine, a senior engineer. He told me how he acquired his coding skill. He did not attend college so he studied to code by himself. Well, it’s much easier (although not that easy tho) to do it right now, thanks to online courses but he did that 15 years back!

15 years back we did not have that much access to internet like today. What he did was he worked during weekdays and went to internet café every Saturday night. He stayed all night long to download all PDFs related to learn how to code then he learned from those PDFs during the weekend. He constantly did that for years until he landed a job a programmer.

My question to you……

If he could do it back then, isn't it extremely possible for us to do it now right?

As a bachelor of engineering who is working in human resources area, only few things I learned during college is relevant for my work today. This situation forces me to learn a lot of things independently. I used to be a very lazy person when it comes to learning but know I become at least a slightly lazier one. Here is some pieces of advice for you who want to start becoming a learner:

1. Begin with things you are interested about

Don’t start with something complicated first because it’s going to kill your motivation earlier. Start with something light. For my case, I started with reading football news.

2. Raise your bar one step at a time

Once you are already consistent by reading football news, try to read politics. If politics is manageable, then try reading philosophy. If you can read consistently, try to memorize 3 takeways from that book. When it comes to raise the bar, sky is always the limit.

3. Find support system

As human being, sometimes we lose our motivation because learning can be very draining. Therefore it’s important to have a group of people with similar interest who can hold our hands when we are about to give up. If you don't have anyone in your circle who shares the same interest, then find communities online.

Being a passionate learner is just one way to stay relevant and survive at the workplace. What are some other ways? I'll share them in my next article.

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