I have a bachelors degree in Communications, Public Relations & Marketing. I’m also a “Certified Protection Professional” with the American Society for Industrial Security.
In and of themselves, these two certificates I have in my office do not open doors for me. What each did, however, is unlock critical thinking.
by Pete Ferguson
I also have a bookshelf full of great books – which also got me thinking outside of the box. And despite being in the security industry, I regularly read Fast Company, Inc, HR Manager, CIO, and ComputerWorld magazines and attend webinars and other learning opportunities not directly related to my field.
In my view, higher education should be equipping students to answer these four questions:
- What is worth knowing?
- What is worth doing?
- What makes for a good human life?
- What are my responsibilities to other people?
College is not the only place in which answers to these questions can develop, but it is an important place. And siloed, specialized training in a discipline—any discipline—will answer none of them.
I’m grateful for all of my learning experiences. I would like to get a Master’s degree when Miles (my youngest, now 3) is settled in school. I do better in a structured environment and I liked attending classes and having debates with people not in my line of profession when I started a few years back. But with family, civic, work, travel and other things occupying my time, it wasn’t a good fit.
My father has a PhD and it has served him well. My mentor and career coach Dan Miller did everything required for a PhD except his dissertation when he decided he could spend a year writing a paper that four old men would critique and then it would sit in an archive at the library, or sell a few million dollars in books and seminars on “48 Days to the Work You Love.”
We had a mid-level position open last month – three PhDs applied. The salary I can offer would maybe pay for one semester of school. That blows my mind that someone would invest over $200k on a degree to make $50-60k a year. You may break even the day you die.
Whatever you do, always be learning – advice I received multiple times from good professors and my father – and have tried to apply.
Other great advice I received often is to always be writing. And having written over 240 blog entries here – and commented on countless others – I can attest that it has been very educational and helped me see new perspectives.
Finally, network! Not talking FaceBook here – LinkedIn is better – but make sure you are setting up lunch and coffee appointments to pick people’s brains.
I recently sat down with a very successful CEO and asked him what advice he has for someone my age to get more mentors. His answer – ask, and show value. He says many of his C-level executive friends and peers often talk about wanting to have a mentee, but seldom get asked. He recommends I select ten people and invite them to lunch on my expense. Be very specific on time requirements (and stick to what you commit to) and actively follow up on everything discussed.
What are you doing to continue your education?
- 4 Steps to Joining the Professional Conversation on LinkedIn (linkedin.com)
- Learning Comes First (LearnActShare.com)
- I Critically Think to Be, I Refractively Think to Change the World (prweb.com)
- Is Your Corporate Culture Killing Critical Thinking? (critical-thinkers.com)
- Training Tip: Turn Every Conversation into a Critical Thinking Exercise (critical-thinkers.com)