Growing up, I was the pedantic and studious nerd. My Asian mother raised me to get good grades, and the modern school system trained me to use textbooks. When I got to college, I continued to strive for those grades on paper, but I knew I was an applied learner. I always valued hands-on or out-of-classroom experiences like internships.
I used to argue with Jonathan about the importance of school. He was always in the camp that school was useless, but I defended it with my honor, arguing that it taught students good work ethic, social skills, and laid a foundation for future learning. As I have progressed farther along in my career, however, I'm starting to see his philosophy. I still don't agree with him completely, but I can't say I’ve used much (or remember much) from my college stats course...
When I started my current marketing role, I had no prior experience developing a marketing program from scratch. I understood what I needed to accomplish and the strategy, but I was unsure of the right tools and tactics. Questions like how many characters are recommended in a subject line or simply how do I do “x” in this application came up all the time. So what did I do?
I Googled it.
Before the internet, I probably wouldn’t have been able to answer many of my questions without taking a class or talking to an expert. It's hard to imagine that age, but these days, so much free information is at our finger tips, and anyone can share an opinion! Yes, it does take time and experience to weed out bad information, but once you develop hound dog senses, the sky’s the limit.
My recent foray into video really got me thinking about how much I learned just by using the internet. With little to no professional video experience (besides operating a DSLR), I decided to take on producing a 24-video series instead of hiring a videographer, whose fees would have blown my budget. I turned to Google and the blogosphere for all the recommended equipment, setups, and techniques. I watched YouTube videos instructing me how to build a cheap DIY teleprompter; I read reviews on the best DSLR lenses for video; I continued to read and watch tons more videos, reviews, and tips for a whole week.
And then it was go time. After purchasing my equipment, I knew there was no turning back. I applied everything I learned (from the internet). And despite my consternation, it’s going really well!
I’m currently in the thick of the project – filming every opportunity I have and editing when I have desk time. It’s definitely an iterative learning process, but it’s hands on learning every day. This process has made me realize that unless I was a film major or took a paid course, I probably would not have had the knowledge or confidence to take on this project.
I will be forever grateful for school because there are still many intangible skills the internet can’t teach. I also appreciate and need the accountability that comes with taking a class. But the next time I get an email to attend a seminar I have to pay for, I’m sorry, it’s going straight to the trash.