On Education and Upskilling

Magdalina Atanassova🍓
3 min readJul 4, 2022

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Meeting Simon Sinek in NYC, Dec 2016

I find that there are a lot of assumptions when it comes to Continuous Professional Development (CPD). It seems that there are set beliefs as to the reasons why and how people decide to learn during their career. And frameworks begin to emerge. And with time they become standards.

What I find flawed in this process is that we are all so very different and have so many different reasons to continue learning. I, for example, am a very keen learner. I love learning new things all the time. It comes from my growth mindset, and also that is a key trait of mine — it is something that makes me feel good and that rekindles my fire. But looking at the closest person next to me — my husband — he is the complete opposite. He may say that he doesn’t have the time, when in fact, what he doesn’t have is a clear why. If he sees a reason, he would go for it, but he won’t be proactively searching for it. Then it comes to the person that wants to change their career, as they realise that what they do is no longer bringing them joy. Those people then have a choice — either to go for a full university degree or to seek some CPD education.

I am intrigued by how much university education has changed too. While before it was a sure bet that better higher education would land you the dream job, this is not necessarily the case anymore. Especially with the flood of new positions in the job market (and I’m not talking about all the ninjas and whatnot…). Universities fall short there, so employers cannot necessarily rely on quality this way. CPDs though have the issue of credibility of those teaching the course. There are many platforms online where anyone and everyone can become a tutor, but the quality (especially for those starting out) is always questionable.

So we have easy options to use certified online platforms (such created by professional organisations or universities), which provide various education on demand, that we can simply integrate into our daily schedules. Yet, the completion rate seems to be not too large (based on at least our company data when we got an Udemy corporate account — many people started but most didn’t complete their courses).

The learners have their intrinsic and extrinsic motivators, in a world that is overwhelmed by content and competing demands for the attention of a single human soul. In a world where a Harvard degree can no longer guarantee success (and happiness!), how can you upskill, just like an app — regularly and with timely information, in a world full of distractions?

  • Realise your needs and your why. If you are not clear on why you are embarking on a journey, it will surely wear you out in no time and you will drop the effort
  • What do you want to get out of it? If you are not seeing value — do communicate that to the provider/tutor, so that they can make adjustments in the future
  • Understand how you want to use the new knowledge so that you don’t fall into the trap of waiting to see how the program/conference/certificate will change your life — they won’t unless you act on what you’ve learned

I often get the question about how I manage to find the time to do the courses and certificates that I do. I am very clear on the above and I make actionable changes already while I am learning in order to get the best outcomes. And while I believe value can be found in everything, if a conference session or a course is not of value, I make sure to communicate this with empathy and respect, aiming to contribute to the development of the people on the other side. If we all did that, instead of coldly complaining or dropping the course, the experience would be wonderful for all sides.

Stay inspired. Keep inspiring.

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