Teach Me: How I've Found Professional Development as a Freelancer + Mini General Assembly Review
Remember when you were little and thought that once you became a grown up you would suddenly have all the answers to everything. (Side note: Is there ever a day when you wake up and feel like a grown up? I still consider my parents the grown ups.) Well, luckily this doesn’t happen, ever. If I had told my younger self that there would always be more to learn and that no one had all the answers to everything, she probably would have thrown an internal fit and resolved to become the first person to know everything about some particular topic. Present day Leah, on the other hand, loves that there is always more to learn.
One of my biggest hesitations in changing my career path was how I would grow professionally without a more structured organization in which I was working. Sans an HR department that would offer in-house courses and a team of colleagues and more senior mentors to look to, who would provide guidance and where would I look other than Google.
Google has certainly played a role, but I have been fortunate to also discover some other wonderful resources, chief among them my peers. Working in a young industry where the landscape is constantly changing (hello today’s Instagram algorithm launch/apocalypse or maybe not, TBD), a lot of issues remain unsettled and those of us working in the space are able to have great discussions and experiment around them. Hearing what works for some but not others, lessons learned, target KPIs and softer brand culture-oriented goals, along with founding stories has proved incredibly fruitful and personally fulfilling. I come away from these conversations with professional knowledge and new personal contacts, creating some sort of Lost Boys-ish circle of colleagues and in some cases friendships. I have also found many wonderful newsletters and blogs, and even bit the bullet to try a few in-person classes at General Assembly.
One class had sections that were very useful, while the rest seemed so obvious to me. Yet, I realized that a year ago those parts of the class wouldn’t have felt like “Rocks for Jocks” type lessons. Realizing how much I have learned on the job was really inspiring and motivating. Unfortunately my other class was a huge disappointment. The description did not match the content, the material was something anyone could have taught, and a prerequisite was purchasing a subscription to an online platform for $99. I almost cancelled my registration as a result of this pre-req but reconsidered (read: Dad talked me into it because it could be a great investment), only to find out during the class that the course description hadn’t been updated and no, we didn’t need to have purchased a subscription. I was frustrated to say the least but luckily the software company kindly and promptly issued me a refund. Will I take future courses there? Maybe. If nothing else, it was exciting to learn what the other students who attended are doing and future classes there could potentially lead to new friends and/or colleagues. That said, if a class is at a really inconvenient time or has a high cost, I’ll probably skip it.
Do you have a mentor?