They say that everything you need to know, you learned in Kindergarten. Although I believe that you learned some pretty valuable things at that precious age, like how to share, the alphabet, counting, creativity and other important skills, it sure can’t keep pace with today’s changing needs in the workplace. I mean, who would have thought back then we would need to understand tweeting or blogging? I became interested in the idea of workplace development and contemplating the needs of employers many years ago when I worked for the Michigan Department of Career Development. It was then when I realized there is a clear cycle and sometimes employers are looking for skills students don’t understand and conversely the opposite is true. We all know this happens. Remember when your cousin graduated with the degree in philosophy? That doesn’t mean people can’t have careers in a field they didn’t receive a degree in. It happens all the time. A career path can have so many twists and turns. In fact, the cousin with a degree in philosophy probably has learned many things that will translate into the workplace. Applying the skills from a previous job or from a degree or additional training is the way it should be. I talk to students all the time and they tend to stress-out about their chosen majors and how it will impact them. I always say: 1. Go with your passion when choosing a degree 2. Understand there are no straight lines in a career path 3. Use everything you learn from school, life and jobs to move in your desired direction 4.Seek mentors and listen closely 5. Be a lifelong learner and seek additional skills through specialized training when appropriate I really have a ton of respect for Edythe Hatter-Williams and her role as CEO of Capital Area Michigan Works! The Michigan Works! system was a part of the department I worked for in state government. The amazing work done by dedicated individuals aimed at building a workforce ready for the demands of the 21st century while providing resources to employers, is a tireless effort and is continuing to make a difference because of people like Edythe. It isn’t always easy to think about changing careers or taking the next important step in understanding technology or social media to keep pace with your peers. However, no one wants to be left behind when we’re all trying to make a valuable contribution to our field while making enough money to support our families and ourselves. Time is always a barrier, but with technology moving so quickly, online courses or short-term sessions can really provide information in a short amount of time. I am always surprised at the number of options available for educational opportunities. Conducting research is the first step. Check to see what is available for free or a small-fee at organizations like Michigan Works! and find out what opportunities are just around the corner at community colleges. You can typically take a class or two and really hone in on a skill needed to advance. And, because I believe that networking with other like-minded business people in the community is important, I want to highlight an opportunity to connect through the CAWLM Lady Classic on Thursday, Sept. 18 at Timber Ridge Golf Club. Gather a team of your own or come as an individual and we’ll place you with a team. It’s a great event and also supports an important cause in the community called C.A.R.E. or Capital Area Response Effort, which helps women and families dealing with domestic violence. Although the summer is coming to a close, I always feel refreshed and excited for the fall. It must be reminiscent of the feeling I would get before school resumed when I was a kid. I just couldn’t wait. Before the warm season slips away, get out and have some fun and enjoy the sunshine.
Tiffany Dowling is the Founder and President of M3 Group, a full-service branding agency located in downtown Lansing, Mich. She is also owner and publisher of Capital Area Women’s LifeStyle Magazine and the Greater Lansing Business Monthly. Dowling has helped businesses and organizations with branding needs for more than a decade. Learn more at www.m3group.biz.