I don’t get asked this often, but it’s happened more than once, and it’s something I want to talk about. Occasionally when someone discovers my blog, and sees how involved I am in on-line communities, they’ll ask “why do you spend so much of your personal time blogging, and reading other blogs about your job? “
My answer is usually pretty simple. I do it because I want to be the best that I can at my job. That means being a sponge and gathering as much information, advice, and knowledge from as many sources as I can. Being involved in an on-line community enables me to do that on my own time.
I usually add something along the lines of “It’s my career, I’m not going to sit and wait for my boss to tell me what training and knowledge to go get, and I’m certainly not going to wait for someone to approve a budget request before I start learning about a tool or technology”. If I have access to mailing lists, bloggers, Google, and personal relationships (on-line or off) where I can learn more now, why wouldn’t I?
Unfortunately, I find for many that either they don’t look at their career that way, or the reputation of blogging and other social media tools as a “time waster” hinders their ability to access this knowledge. Either they don’t know how to leverage the web tools, or increasingly, their own employer is blocking their ability to use these tools to interact and learn. That’s a shame, but none of these things should stop you from taking control of your own knowledge and bettering yourself as a professional.
Look at it this way, right now there may be no need for anyone in your office to know much about graphic design. A year from now, there may be, and the organization may be looking to choose one person to pay for some additional training. If there are 2 of you under consideration, which one will they send, the guy who sat around, did his job, went home and did other things, and waited for someone to suggest he look at getting some design skills, or the woman who decided she liked the idea of design and even though it wasn’t her job right now, started reading up about it, and meeting graphic designers that were willing to share information with her, and was ready to hit the ground running when the opportunity arose?
Yeah, it’s an obvious choice.
It’s your career, are you doing something to help yourself, or waiting for someone else to do it for you?