Experiential Learning and Your Career: What You Need to Know
Experiential learning is an important technique for enriching your personal and professional life. It refers to hands-on learning experiences that lock in new tools, techniques, and experiences. If you build a new deck for your home and post the amazing results on Instagram for your friends to see, that’s experiential learning. If you make a mess and need to call a professional to fix the situation, that’s experiential learning too.
Also called learning by doing, experiential learning has been used by trade schools and apprenticeship programs for years. Today, colleges and universities around the globe provide experiential learning so students apply new skills in the real world. You’ll probably agree with them when you consider the advantages.
Benefits of Experiential Learning
Whatever the name, learning by doing is a fundamental building block to moving from through the stages of learning and mastering new skills. When you do, you will reap benefits that will improve all aspects of your life.
- Reinforce learning. Studies show that any form of active learning can be very effective. You’re more likely to remember new information and find ways to use it.
- Expand your network. Experiential learning usually involves collaborating with others. You may meet valuable contacts in your field and develop lasting relationships.
- Share feedback. Working with others makes it easier to evaluate your performance. Be sure to ask for feedback and use it. Let others know that you appreciate their input and offer your observations too if appropriate.
- Broaden your experiences. Maybe you’re interested in projects that are outside your current job description. This could be a chance to acquire new skills and keep your qualifications up to date.
- Pursue your passions. What do you want to be doing 5 or 10 years from now? Taking a proactive approach to your career gives you more control over your path instead of passively waiting for job offers.
- Gain satisfaction. Work becomes more meaningful when you can see yourself having a positive impact on others. Find your special gifts and use them to make a difference.
Strategies for Experiential Learning
Whether you are a student, a parent, or a project manager, growth and development is possible at any stage of life. Use experiential learning to help reach your career goals and make your work more fulfilling.
Try these techniques:
- Create a side gig. About one in three Americans are moonlighting now. Your side job can be educational as well as profitable.
- Shadow other employees. Are you curious about the star performers in your company or professionals in another field? Ask if you can watch what they do for a few hours.
- Accept an internship. If you’re at the beginning of your career, check for internship opportunities at your campus career center. Clarify your goals and find a mentor if possible. Older workers may want to explore arrangements like practicums and internships.
- Travel regularly. Adapting to new environments is stimulating too. You could study abroad for a semester or devote part of your vacation time to educational activities.
- Volunteer your services. Help yourself and your community at the same time. Donating your time and services to worthy causes will pay you back with new and impressive credentials to put on your resume.
- Develop hobbies. Are you maximizing your leisure time? Seek out pastimes that exercise your mind and body. While you enjoy them for their own sake, they may also make you more attractive to potential employers.
- Practice deliberately. You can turn any activity into an educational experience by approaching it strategically. Focus on your backstroke if that’s the weakness in your tennis game. Experiment with small variations when you’re cooking dinner or growing roses.
Experiential learning can deepen your understanding and help you apply the lessons in daily life. Be like a child and never stop learning. Seek out opportunities that will add to your accomplishments, build your confidence, and help you to enjoy more success.
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- Get crystal clear on what is most important to you.
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