It came to me as I was hobbling about with each foot in a different shoe and wrestling with a skirt as I tried to put together an outfit for an important work meeting, while my laptop perched precariously on an alarmingly pink dollhouse as I waited for an assignment to upload so I could submit it before I Usain-ed out the door…
It struck me as hard as the rising cost of Nutella: I am never going to stop learning.
I think of where I was with my knowledge before starting my most recent degree, how much I have gained during it and how much confidence that gives me professionally.
Running my own business consultancy means that knowledge is my most valuable asset (technically my shoe-collection is, but that’s a whole different story). I need to stay current and be on top of my game. I need to act like I know stuff AND actually know stuff. More than that though, I crave that learning.
You see, I come from a culture where some girls are still fighting for the right to education, and those in other cultures are taking bullets through the head for it. Education means empowerment; empowerment means reaching beyond current life situations and not being sold into marriage or the sex-trade, but being able to carve out a better future.
For me, a better future is a work-life balance that allows me to be a mother when I need to and to be able to give my clients the very best I have to offer. Good Old Fashioned Service: that’s what I’ve based my business on. This isn’t just about going above and beyond; it is about being up to date with the latest knowledge and its application, so that my clients get the most current information. And for that, I need to study.
I need my thinking challenged by lecturers and those in the know. I need to be assessed on what I've learned so I know where the gaps are. I remember sitting in maths C classes (back in the days of youth and Impulse spray… don’t judge, we have all been there!) looking at golf ball trajectories and thinking about how I would never care about or use that information (I still don’t… golf gives me hives). But university education is just so relevant to my career. I often look at assignment and exam questions and I have so many real-life examples that relate to what I’m learning. In fact, my business is the direct result of an assignment I did for a small to medium enterprise subject at uni, after a lovely lecturer saw potential and encouraged me on.
University was the ultimate training program for me: I learnt how to write business plans, how to analyse the economic environment, how to manage projects, how to work out the best options for my own superannuation, how to embrace the diversity in organisations and about what motivates people. So listen to the insight your lecturers can provide. They know stuff.
But I have to admit that sometimes I feel that all this is also really just part of my grand scheme to get close to Hugh (Jackman, not Hefner). Me giving a lecture on something fancy and academic… him in the audience all enthralled... I might even get to shake his hand!
The point is, approach study as a means to an end and keep that ultimate goal, whatever it may be, in mind. Write it down, chant it over and over, whatever works for you.
Learning is something we do every time we Google something, approach something differently, ask a question or make a mistake. Formalising this learning through university education is my way of making that learning an asset for my business and career.
If, like Viki, you're looking to further your knowledge base and make a change, find out more about your options and give postgraduate study a go!