Lifelong learning is defined by a self-motivated continuous pursuit of knowledge. When I began researching further education, the traditional offerings turned out to be a fraction of the puzzle. Formal classroom education required significant time, money and sacrifice, but a proliferation of digital courses from colleges and universities made it much more reachable. Organizations like CPRS offer webinars and online speakers, a wide variety of online courses are available for varying fees, and online job training is more accessible than ever, even more in a COVID-19 dominated world.
Hobbies can be pursued, interests can be strengthened and new passions can be discovered. Though I didn’t have a formal education after high school, I took advantage of all the casual learning I could. After a decade-plus in a career that I had stumbled into and the birth of a son eight years ago, I decided it was time to tackle something new and demonstrate a path for my son that I would encourage him to follow.
In 2019, I decided to return to school. I enrolled at Bow Valley College in Calgary for a Business program that would give me a diploma in two years. It was great to feel a spark of interest in something new. That excitement was swiftly followed by feeling overwhelmed. There was so much I had to learn, and it seemed, so little I actually knew. I’d assumed that taking this program would max out my interest in learning or at least my capacity to learn, but the more I learned, the more interested I became.
My two favourite courses are marketing and public relations. They reminded me of the joy in writing I had as a child and opened my mind to careers I had never considered. My instructor for both courses encouraged me to explore these opportunities further. She suggested I join CPRS as a student member and I did, signing up for networking events and webinars. After attending a few, I once again felt the excitement that comes from learning. I was still overwhelmed with how little I knew, but everyone from other attendees to the instructors were open and enthusiastic about the constant learning and adaptation required in a PR role.
My goal with school was to complete my courses and check the “done” box. This was put into perspective quickly and my goal now is to place myself in an industry where I’ll never be done learning. The more I interact with professionals and students in this industry, the more their enthusiasm and excitement for their chosen career is apparent. I recently enrolled in the CPRS Calgary mentorship program and hope to gain more support and inspiration from my mentor.
There is no cookie-cutter solution to most problems, and the challenges and learning that come from meeting those challenges should be embraced and encouraged. As the industry adapts, changes and grows there will never be a shortage of new information to learn and new technology to tackle.
I’m grateful that I have been able to learn so much already and to be matched with great instructors, and that I joined CPRS when it was suggested. I’m looking forward to more webinars and I’m curious what I’ll be learning in a year from now.
By guest blogger, Amanda Edward