Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Study: Why it Benefits You and Your Employer

It seems I’ve spent the last few years in one of three states; eagerly anticipating study, screaming because I was in the middle of study, or suffering post-study ennui. As I’m currently in between final course work and at the pre-research/planning stage for my 15000 word dissertation, this is a really good time to evaluate the impact that part time study has on my professional life.

It also doubles as an annoyingly motivational piece for January, given the tradition for resolutions and fresh starts. What more perfect resolution could there be than taking a course of study?

One of my library friends on Twitter asked how I was finding my course - what the workload with the day job/support/etc was like - because he was thinking of doing something similar. I was honest. If I’m being frank, my friends and family get neglected, annual leave is spent in the library, stress levels rise around coursework/assessment time and lecture evenings are reserved, no matter what. Sometimes day to day work is affected because of tiredness and, in my case, total distraction with a subject I love. All this sounds very negative and yet, I advised my friend to go for it as soon as possible. Why would anyone go to such lengths for study? 

I’m aware that many companies pay and provide very good support for employee training, but what happens if your course is completely unrelated? On a professional level, if you are doing something quite intense and potentially setting yourself up for conflicts in time and effort, your employer needs to understand appreciate the benefits of their staff undergoing further and higher education. And the benefits are many.

The ‘change is as good as a rest’ argument; this one occurred to me on the first day back at work in January. Despite the utter ‘heart in mouth’ efforts I’d put in over the holidays, it felt like I’d had a fortnight on a beach escape. The sheer concentration on something so different from work ensured that I’d had a complete rest. I came back feeling energised and ready to get stuck into the New Year.

The added stress of doing exams or course work is not something that you would actively welcome, however it’s a good way of channelling and coping with excess anxiety. For instance, it could put work stress into perspective – just how important is that meeting/report/person you are worried about? Also if you’re busy, there is no time to get really stressed; write your to-do list and off you go, it actually encourages you deal with matters more efficiently.

This leads me on to discipline. This is a useful mind set to get into. The busier you are, the longer the to-do list, the more efficient you are and therefore, the more disciplined you have to become. If you have a set of deadlines – work, study, family – get them in your calendar and plan around them. The structure of a course can help with this because you have a set list of lectures and due dates. By being disciplined and focussed, you can achieve anything and this is something that any employer will appreciate.

Your employer can’t possibly offer you the study support you need and indeed, why should they be on hand to discuss the minutiae of your course? So look to engage with your ready-made study group. The people on your course are a network of similarly minded individuals and if you are careful, they will be there both during and after your course. Who knows where these new contacts will take you; will they become clients, employers, employees, or most importantly, friends. Your employer will appreciate your improved networking skills and the opportunities they provide.

Further study will take you into areas which are unfamiliar. Just as a new exercise regime will make you ache in forgotten parts of the body, your brain will enjoy the challenge and stretch your intellect. This will hopefully take over other parts of your life and open you up to new ways of working and new interests. Your employer might find you more engaged, more confident and ready to inspire others.

My course so far has driven me to the extremes; tiredness - euphoria, anxiety - relief, brainache-resolution. Despite these exertions and sacrifices, I would say to anyone wanting to enter further/higher education, it is one of the best things you can do. Just make sure you follow your passion and choose a course with which you are fully engaged. Happy you, happy employer and happy New Year.

No comments:

Post a Comment