Does the Learning Ever End?

When I graduated from university two years ago – getting old, I know ;-) , I experienced a number of emotions – exhaustion, pride, happiness, and above all, an overwhelming sense of relief – no more classes, no more homework – EVER!

But when I started my first “real” job, I quickly realized that the learning was hardly over; in fact, it was really just beginning: homework was also replaced with plain old work. It seemed like somewhere in between calculating the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, and writing reports on deforestation in Southeast Asia, my professors had conveniently neglected to school me on the skills I use every day, on the job. The more I look into it though, the more I realize that this is a widespread phenomenon (check out this fifty-something page report from the Harvard School of Education on the “skills gap”).

This is one of the reasons why organizations send their employees to be trained, or establish their own internal training programs. With close to 100,000 employees worldwide, it’s no surprise that Intel has its own internal employee development organization, dubbed “Intel University” (duh). In 2010, we invested about $250 million into the program, with employees logging over 2.6 million learning hours – an average of almost 35 hours per employee. Additional information about the program is available in our 2010 Corporate Responsibility Report.

In addition to technical and subject matter courses (software programming, anyone?), the online and classroom-based university offers behavioral courses, some of which I’ve had the pleasure of attending – like “Out of the Box Thinking”, “Influencing through Business Partnerships” and “Microinequities”, which draws on the writings and teachings of Stephen Young.

This last example class, “Microinequities”, illustrates how non-verbal cues can subconsciously impact performance, both negatively and positively. It also provides tips and tools on identifying microinequities, and for modifying your own behavior – more information on the course is available on Stephen’s website.

Personally, this class and others mentioned have been instrumental in bridging the gap between the skills I learned in school and the skills I need here in the real world. At least there’s no homework…

Share your first job experiences and favorite courses or trainings in the comments!

Linda Qian

About Linda Qian

Linda focuses on CSR communications both internally and externally with Intel's global Corporate Responsibility Office. She graduated in December 2009 with a Bachelor of Science in Conservation and Resource Studies from the UC Berkeley College of Natural Resources. Follow Linda on Twitter at @lindalqian and @Intelinvolved. She is also active on LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook and Instagram.

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