What do you mean you don’t know something because no one has ever shown you before? It’s 2013! DIY isn’t just a home improvement trend, it’s a culture shift. When someone tries to pin their lack of understanding of something on others not taking the time to get them up to speed, I have to do a quick check of the mirror to make sure my eyes aren’t squiggling around too much in frustration.

Other people are not responsible for your enlightenment. Sure, they can be involved in helping you learn new things, but they are not the ones ultimately accountable for your professional relevance. You are! Considering the abundance of inexpensive resources available these days (many even free) there is no excuse not to get on board the DIY bandwagon and teach yourself what you need to get to where you want to go.

Over the past few years most of the new things I’ve learned have come from my own efforts. Curiosity led to exploration. Exploration led to experimentation. Experimentation led to understanding. I’ve learned all sorts of things from books, YouTube, Google, playing around and getting nosy with friends & acquaintances. I consider myself to be a decent blogger, Twitter/LinkedIn user, turkey chef, parent, PowerPoint presenter, Angry Bird master, etc…all self-taught.

I’m not special. I know lots of people who can  make the same claim. My concern is for those who can’t…those who are in the habit of waiting for others to prompt them to learn something and then see to their eventual education. It matters for a couple of reasons. For one, if you’re not putting the responsibility to learn new things squarely on your shoulders, who else is there who cares enough about your success to own the process? Second, how do you convince employers you can take initiative on their behalf when you’ve failed to do so on your own? Third, when those in the habit of trying to teach themselves new things are on the receiving end of excuses from those waiting for others to lead the way, the impression isn’t great.

Are there things in this world we can’t teach ourselves? Sure. But much of what I see holding people back doesn’t fit in that category.

Need to learn software? Buy a Lynda.com training subscription for $35 for a month and train from home, go to your local library to practice, install the software on your own computer and practice by trying to recreate your junk mail, etc.

Need to understand social media applications? Watch some YouTube videos, read articles on the applications, check out the appropriate “How to (blank) for Dummies” book, use the “help” function on the actual website, attend free workshops in your community and ask friends known to be users.

Need to figure out how to write grants? Google grant writing, attend an evening college class on the subject, volunteer for a non-profit willing to expose you to the process, print out existing grants to review content/format and network with those who write grants for recommendations.

The list goes on…

If you haven’t embraced the DIY movement, it’s going to leave you in the dust.


Lisa joined the Michigan State University Alumni Association as Director of Alumni Career & Business Services on May 1, 2012. Her primary focus is to develop effective networking and resource channels for experienced alumni interested in professional development and job search strategy assistance. Additionally, Lisa works directly with corporate, education, foundation and government partners seeking to attract qualified talent, retain and develop good employees, and establish collaborative relationships in line with their established goals and objectives.

With 15+ years’ experience in third party recruiting, Lisa offers a balanced understanding of both employee and employer perspectives.

Lisa is a firm advocate of the networking process and considers it a vital element in a successful job search. In addition to helping job seekers develop and best utilize networking contacts, Lisa shares her knowledge and insight-gained aiding corporate recruiting efforts-to give Spartan job seekers an edge in terms of lead sourcing, resume presentation and interview strategy.

Among Lisa’s notable accomplishments: Prima Civitas Foundation Scholar; Michigan Works Association Volunteer of the Year; Pink Slip Mid Michigan Planning Committee; RecruiterUncensored.com career content blogger.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Michigan State University.


1 comment

  1. Jill Rieke 4 June, 2013 at 13:33

    As a life long learner I agree with you. Once you stop being curious and trying new things you become obsolete, not only in terms of employability but also as a participant in your own life.

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