Always Be a Student of Your Industry

Always Be a Student of Your Industry

No matter your job, your industry, or your level in your company, you should never stop learning. There is always something new to learn that can help advance your career and improve your work.  Stay curious and keep advancing yourself and your knowledge with these tips.

Read industry-related books and articles in your free time 

You can take work home without really taking work home.  If you are genuinely interested in the industry you’re working in, find some relevant books from experts in your field and read them in your spare time.  Whether they are how-to books offering tips and tricks, or merely personal accounts of past experiences in your industry, reading topical books can help you grow your knowledge and understanding of the field you are in.

Follow industry journals and magazines to stay informed about latest trends 

Books can be a bit of a commitment, but journal and magazine articles aren’t.  If possible, subscribe to journals and magazines that focus on your field.  These are great sources to get a first look at emerging trends, and stay on top of developments in your industry.  Even spending just 5-10 minutes per day perusing articles can make you aware of changes and teach you something new and insightful.

Follow competitors to see what everyone else is doing 

You should also keep informed about what others in your industry are doing.  Follow your competitors on social media, network with your peers at events, and gather information about other companies in your industry in any way you can.  This will help you see what new things your competitors are trying, notice efforts that are and are not working well for them, and make sure your offerings are on par with others in your field. 

Ask questions 

Do not be afraid to ask questions! The only way to grow your knowledge and fill in holes is to ask about areas you do not yet understand.  If there is any part of your job that you are executing but not fully understanding, make sure to dig deeper until you understand what you’re doing and why you are doing it.  Don’t worry about feeling like a nuisance: your co-workers and supervisors will likely appreciate that you are trying to grow and get better.

Shadow and learn from peers 

Asking questions doesn’t have to only apply to your own tasks.  If you’re seeing a peer work on a project that you don’t know about, ask if they have time to explain what they are doing to you, or if you can observe for a while to learn about what they are doing.  If you have friends or contacts who work in the same industry as you, talk to them and learn from things they are doing that you are not.  Even if this knowledge never ends up directly applying to your own tasks, it can help you develop a more well-rounded understanding of the industry as a whole.  Plus, you never know when you might need to shift gears down the line.    

Take additional classes/trainings that are relevant to your field 

Finally, whenever it is possible, become a student of your industry in a more formal sense and take any relevant classes or training that are available to you.  If your field offers additional certifications that can help you in specific areas of your jobs, try to secure those as well.  There are plenty of ways to informally learn from those around you, but sometimes you cannot beat the structured knowledge you’ll gain from formal training.  Make sure to do your research beforehand and only devote time and resources to classes that will actually benefit you, but do not shy away from formal learning.

With the tools and techniques above, you can continue to advance your knowledge, no matter what your current position is.  You should never get complacent with where you are at within your industry; always be willing and ready to learn more, and seek out knowledge from a variety of sources.  Always be a student if you want to succeed. 

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