Last Friday, we hosted a Virtual Think IT Panel event on the topic; Advanced Learning- Strategies and Ideas to Continue Learning as Your Career Progresses. A huge thank you to our panelists Jared Olhoft, Vice President of Engineering at Yardstik, Nate Ober, CTO at TempWorks, and Eric Hunsberger, Vice President, Infrastructure and Operations at Bluestem Brands, for sharing how they have continued their learning throughout their careers. Thank you to everyone who joined us as well! 

Below you will find an overview of the most popular questions from our members and a summary of what was discussed. 

When you chose the degree you were going to pursue, what did you expect the outcome to be, and did that come to fruition? 

The outcome of the panelist’s degrees didn’t all end up where they thought it would. They learned in domains that they are not familiar with and networked with people outside of their group. This opened many different opportunities for them. 

When you went back to school for your advanced degree, why did you choose the school and program you chose? 

The panelists agreed that when choosing a school, they based it on their network and where they want to work. St. Thomas had a cohort program that a couple of the panelists found valuable. They appreciated the high caliber of professors and that there were different programs that they could concentrate on. The panelists also all said that to choose a school based on their size and model that fits best for you.  

Tuition is expensive these days. Do you believe that you will get a return on your investment? 

When going back to school, the panelists all agreed that they didn’t go back to make more money in their careers but to invest in themselves. Their advanced degrees gave them the blueprints to not have to learn everything on their own but to have a network that they can work with. Advanced degrees helped the panelists learn to think about things in a broader sense.  

What is your view on continuous learning, and what are some of the ways you practice it? 

Lifelong learning is fundamental. The panelists find different things to teach themselves new skills that they are interested in. There is developmental learning which is coming from a coach or your network. Exploratory learning is digging into a new skill you want to learn or a new topic related to your career. There is also leisurely learning, which is learning about something just for you and something you’re interested in. Also, remember to learn things outside of your industry and be curious.  

What are the benefits of a Liberal Arts degree to your perspective on technology?  

There is lots of value in a liberal arts degree. It gives you different backgrounds and different ways to look at things. The panelists agreed that it’s important for people who are in IT to bknowledgeable in technology but also humanity 

With so many learning opportunities available, YouTube, LinkedIn, Udemy, how does one choose and learn well without being scattered brain?  

When looking at different learning opportunities, look at how does it relate to my current life. You want to make sure that what you are getting out of your learning is important to your life and education.  

When looking to advance your career, be clear about what you want to pursue. If you’re thinking about getting another degree, be sure you’re in the right environment and have the support to do so.