Learning by doing: acquiring skills when the situation demands it
A few months ago, since October and with only a year of experience in the field, I joined two partners in the adventure of creating a digital agency.
It amazes me how much you can learn by working in-house during a whole year in the creative field. But that learning is definitely not enough for someone to start its own agency. However, after almost 4 months, here we are.
Even though college provides its tools, I'm not the only crazy person who thinks that universities, at least in the digital field, work every day a little bit less.
So; how do we learn those things we aren't taught every day at school? Right, let's buy online courses.
Well, they are a great learning tool. But we are still missing a bit.
That bit is called the need of learning.
I really like all the college subjects I have, and I find the skills I learn on the online course I'm currently doing really interesting. But; how do I apply all those concepts in real life? When will I have the chance to use all the stuff I learn everyday, on a real working situation?
Active Learning vs Passive Learning
I've been making an experiment for the last couple of months: how much time will it take me absorbing knowledge actively? And how much time will it take me passively?
From my perspective, I call passive learning to knowledge I acquire for the sake of learning. For example, every time I read an article, or watch a documentary. Pure curiosity. Pure love for learning.
On the other hand, active learning is about absorbing information that provides me with tools I can use every day at work.
Let's get a bit deeper into this
Two months ago I was reached by a relative to talk about a project she was working on. After that, she asked me for a solution (in this case, that solution was about designing and developing an e-commerce platform).
BUT I had a little problem. I've never done something even close to an e-commerce platform since I got into this field.
The easy path, the one I thought I was actually going to take, was saying no.
The difficult path was pricing the project and eventually accepting it. But it wasn't just about pricing and taking. It was about learning to come up with this solution (basically, learning how to do a fu#*ing e-commerce).
On a situation like this, where taking the easy path equals losing a client (which means not only losing money but also a project), we have not much of a choice left. Whether we take the difficult path, or we just take the difficult path.
Taking the difficult path has a lot of results, but the one I wish to highlight the most is this: you acquire new skills.
There are two ways of learning how to build an e-commerce. I could learn how to do it because of curiosity, during weekends, to see what I can achieve (passive learning). Or…
I could learn it on a demanding situation, by which not doing so means losing a job (active learning).
Whether we take the difficult path, or we just take the difficult path.
Pros and cons of taking this attitude towards clients
I've only found one cons, it's called time.
Yes, doing something you've never done before will probably take more time. When things take more time you'll have to use your free time for them. BUT, always remember: we are building an agency. We have no choice.
Pros are a bit more extensive.
We took the difficult path and said yes to something we've never imagined we would have to deal with. Once we come up with the final product, we might just have developed and acquired a new skill, which eventually means you may have a new service to offer.
At the Weland Agency, after the e-commerce project was done successfully, we had the chance to use it as a reference for ourselves to slowly start specializing in online store solutions (which, if you allow me, is a very required service).
Learning by doing became not just experience, but a new service which, eventually, brought new opportunities.
Besides, learning by doing gives us the chance to strengthen our skills every single day of our lives, in many aspects.
Every project that knocks on the Weland's door comes up with new challenges and new things to learn while doing the work. By following this methodology, I dare to say that learning as creatives never ends.