Today’s workers place high priority on professional development. In a survey of LinkedIn professionals, many reported the “opportunity to learn and grow” as the most inspiring aspect of their job. It also showed that nearly half of respondents dedicated between one and five hours to learning each week.
How these workers go about learning varies. They might read an article in their favorite trade publication. Others might attend a conference. Some might listen to an industry-specific podcast or audiobook.
Whatever method they use, what matters most is what they do with their newly gained knowledge—or, how they put what they learn into action. And as anyone who’s used YouTube tutorials can tell you, knowing is not the same as understanding. It’s one thing to watch a video on weatherizing your windows at home. It’s a completely different thing to try it for yourself.
Thankfully, that’s all part of the learning process. As Stephen R. Covey once wrote, “to learn and not to do is really not to learn. To know and not to do is really not to know.”
When applying your new knowledge in a real-world setting, you have the opportunity to make mistakes and course correct. That kind of first-hand experience goes beyond simply reading or listening to directions. It allows you to grasp the material and see how it is relevant and useful in your specific situation. It’s that kind of understanding that can help you better do your job and push you to the forefront of your industry.
This benefits you—the individual professional— and it also benefits the greater community. That’s because a well-trained workforce is critical to narrowing the skills gap and positioning Flint and Genesee County for continued economic growth.
There are many opportunities to learn and practice new skills in our community. At the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce, for instance, we regularly bring in experts from all over the county and state to deliver trainings covering everything from emotional intelligence and conflict management to non-profit board development and grant writing.
These sessions, which are available throughout the course of the year, help community members sharpen their skills and advance in their careers. The latest lineup, listed at flintandgenesee.org/training, offers something for professionals in all industries and at all levels.
The Chamber also provides Career Edge, a pre-employment training program for adults entering and re-entering the workforce. Sessions target three key areas: getting and keeping a job, job search preparation and interview preparation. Dates for upcoming workshops are available at flintandgenesee.org/career-edge.
Whatever trainings you pursue this year, I encourage you to keep the end in mind. Ask yourself, “How can I put what I’ve learned into practice?” and set aside dedicated time to follow through on that. After all, application is an important part—if not the point—of learning.
Kristina Johnston is the COO of the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce.