Go take a class!

final exam
Creative Commons License photo credit: dcJohn
Every once in a while, life gets busy and I completely neglect any attempt at professional education. The past few months have been like that for me, but I recently had a strong recommendation to attend a specific class here at EMC and did. In the process, I remembered why I enjoy them so much.

The trick is that it has nothing to do with the class. The material in the class is important in its own way, but there’s no shortage of information available to anyone who is looking for it. But these other benefits are much harder to come by:

Take the pulse of the company

By now you probably have figured out that corporate culture and employee engagement have become professional hobbies of mine. You want the pulse of the company? Get in a room with 10-20 other people who work for the same company you do but have no idea who you are. You’ll learn a lot.

Change of perspective

You spend most of your work days with the same group of people, and so view your professional life through the same lens almost every day. Leaving all those people behind for a day (or a few days, or a few hours) while still engaged with fellow professionals from the same company will give you a miniature reset button on your perception of your work life.

Learn about your company

I love it when people mention the product or division they work for and I find I’ve never heard of it. What a great chance to learn about the place you work! That old classroom staple, “Tell us your name and what you do” is a chance to find the one or two people in that classroom who can teach you something new about your employer.

Stretch your comfort zone

I always hate it when the educator rearranges us into new groups and forces us to work together on questions. Well, I always hate it at first. By the end of the day I’m thrilled that I got forced to sit next to those random people I would have shied away from given the choice.

Inject new attitude

It’s hard to get honest feedback on career issues in your day to day life. It can be challenging for example to tell your manager that his or her management style clashes with your own style. Having that same conversation with your co-workers can be tricky too. But telling a stranger about a situation works wonders. Telling it to a stranger in the context of a course which deals with a similar issue? Ideal.


I’ve always shied from intentional networking – it seems tacky and contrived. But depending on what you do, you may not have much opportunity to organically grow your network. Networking with fellow learners in a course is a great way to expand your network without it seeming overly engineered.

Take a class this year, even if you don’t want to learn anything. It’ll help.

1 comment so far ↓

#1 links for 2009-07-04 | Adventures in Corporate Education on 07.04.09 at 1:04 pm

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