In school, I feel like there are so many different resources at your fingertips to learn new concepts and theories. When you had a problem, you could always consult a text book, look it up on the web, ask a peer, or as a last resort go to office hours and ask a professor. Unfortunately, your company does not have a textbook with a glossary of acronyms and cheat sheets to get you up and running. Neither does your specific job function. There are no office hours and no professors to help you solve your problem. You have to create those resources for yourself (whether it is literally on an excel spreadsheet or figuratively in your mind).
Now the next logical question is how the heck am I supposed to figure all of this out without any resources?! This is the very question that tripped me up those first couple of months on the job. I was so frustrated with my manager that I remember driving home from work thinking she was asking for the impossible. She wasn't. In fact, she was challenging me to learn and grow; I just couldn't see it at the time. So after a couple weeks of being frustrated and complaining about how I didn't know what I was doing, I realized that I had to find some resources or let down my manager. For those of you who know me, the latter simply wasn't an option. And so began my on the job learning.
The first thing that I did was set up touch bases with people who had built similar projects. They were way more tech savvy than I was, but it was helpful to understand the overall purpose behind what my project was trying to accomplish. When I candidly asked where they learned how to work in that software, they said they learned it from other people and through searching on the internet for answers. This came as a surprise to me- I figured they had learned it in school at some point. But they hadn't. Which meant if they could learn how to do it, I could to.
As I finished up my rotation, I reflected back and realized that school may not teach you the specific tools you will utilize in your job. It's more about becoming a good learner and knowing how to find resources to help you along the way. It is sometimes easy to forget that overall purpose of school when you are stuck in the minute details needed to ace an exam. School helps you be able to think on your feet in many different situations.You need to always challenge yourself to try new things- whether its a new way to do something, a new program to leverage, or an added project to help accomplish a certain goal. For that is what keeps you innovative and always improving. It adds value to you as an employee, expanding your tool kit each time you learn something new. It is easy to get stale when you work at a corporation. But if you challenge yourself to try something new or learn a new way to do something, you will always be adding value not only to the company but also to yourself as an employee.