Learning After Graduating


Solving new, complex problems requires professionals to do a fair amount of independent learning. Rapid changes in technology amplify this requirement for engineers.

As a web developer, when I’m given a project, such as building a new login system for SolidProfessor members, my boss unfortunately doesn’t attach a step-by-step guide on how to implement it. It’s up to me to explore the domain, consider the options, and chisel my way through unknown territory.

chisel my way through unknown territory

Learning after graduating is very different from learning in an academic environment. When you have to learn a new skill or take on a new project in the working world, you’re not given the formal guidance you had in school. Instead of being given material to absorb, you have to seek out information on your own. You have to actively engage as there’s often less of a ‘push’ to learn.

Adjusting to a self-motivated, lifelong learning environment can be a real challenge. As I’ve pursued new challenges at SolidProfessor, these three things have helped me find focus and passion for learning.

Start small

Choosing a small, achievable goal to start with ensures you won’t be overwhelmed. My first project at SolidProfessor was a simple user interface element – it allowed me to work with a snippet of the codebase without needing to understand its true complexity. Taking on something new one piece at a time can have many benefits.

  • If you’re learning something for fun, working on a small chunk can reveal whether you enjoy the subject before you get too invested.
  • You’re more likely to follow something through when you can see the end in sight, and, when you do finish a project, it can be a huge a confidence boost.
  • You’ll spend less time on tedious details that make a larger project feel like it’s dragging on.

My team also finds it helpful to split coding projects into smaller, more digestible pieces. In doing this, we get all the above benefits and are able to reduce the number of distractions that come up at any time.

Align personal and professional goals

Most people know that working full time coupled with everyday responsibilities can be draining and often leaves little time for learning. By focusing on learning things you have a vested interested in, you’ll engage at a deeper level and find the work to be more meaningful and enjoyable.

more meaningful and enjoyable

If you find yourself thinking work is monotonous or that you’ve already learned everything you can in a particular area, try to find new ways to improve your existing processes. Start by asking yourself, “What’s the best way to do this?” As you look for new ways to work through a problem, you’ll discover areas that could use improved efficiency and gain a deeper understanding of the problem you’re tackling. Not only will you continue to learn, but your boss will probably notice your efforts as well. Taking the time for this type of learning can significantly impact your professional growth!

Be as efficient as possible

When confronting a new challenge that requires you to learn a new skill or tool, it can be hard to know where to start or what to look for.

While I’d like to say I’m doing groundbreaking work, the reality is that most of the problems I solve have already been solved by someone else. Organic search is my go-to resource and the gateway to finding the solutions I need. The ability to have your questions answered accurately and on demand from others in your field is invaluable.

online learning content and courses

Online learning content and courses are particularly useful here. If you’re looking for a specific answer to a question, finding it in the context of an online course allows you to explore the subject further. Or, if you’re starting broader and want to learn about a subject as a whole, a guided course gives you an attainable goal and the ability to jump in and out with ease. Moreover, it can be incredibly helpful to have a guide or tutorial to walk you through exactly what you need to learn.

With the right tools and the right approach, lifelong learning can make all the difference in your personal and professional life. At SolidProfessor, we take pride in helping people achieve their learning goals so they can focus on innovation and solving the next problem. As I’ve tackled learning after graduating, I’ve realized that learning by doing in combination with using online resources will take you a long way toward achieving your goals. Learning never ends, and, in the workplace, you have the opportunity to create your own path to learning. By starting small, aligning your personal and professional goals, and being as efficient as possible, you’ll feel engaged with, excited by, and interested in your learning.

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Steven Rogalsky
About the Author

SolidProfessor Web Developer, food junkie (junk foodie?), brogrammer, tennis prodigy, House Lannister.