Perspectives

180° Shift: Career Journey Redefined

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  • (Photo by Asa Mathat)

Speaker

Sophie Vlessing
Senior Vice President, Strategy and Innovation, Kaplan Higher Education Group


Read the full transcript below. (Transcript by Realtime Transcription.)

Vlessing: How would you describe your career journey? We asked this of more than 1,000 LinkedIn members in a survey Kaplan recently conducted in collaboration with LinkedIn. The majority of respondents didn’t know what to expect on the road ahead. Words like uncertain, unexpected and unpredictable came up repeatedly.

What about learning? What role does learning play in achieving career goals? Nearly eight in ten believe they need to obtain new skills to advance their careers, and the importance of continuing education is not only recognized by those just starting their careers, but also for those further along, including baby boomers.

As I reflect on my career journey I’ll never forget the day I finished grad school. All I could think was, “It’s over.” I completed my education. I earned my bachelor’s and my MBA, and I had reached the end, and I was sad. I believed it was time to shift my focus from learning to earning. I saw the two, education and career, as separate and distinct. I’m happy to say I was wrong.

As technology, social networks, roles and expectations evolve at light speed, today’s career is all about lifelong learning. It’s the only way to thrive, especially when the skills being critical one year are often obsolete the next and your next job may not have even been invented yet.

What’s fascinating is that there are so many new tools and technologies that provide new ways to learn today. Take MOOCs, for instance. These massive online open courses are enabling people to learn anywhere, any time at no cost. There are thousands of MOOCs out there, and we’ve created a new ap called MOOCAdvisor that helps people find the right one for them.

Learning possibilities also go far beyond classrooms, brick and mortar and online. Kaplan University has a MOOC that teaches people how to turn past work experiences, even volunteer work into credit speeding up the path to earning a degree.

In our survey nearly seven in ten wish they could find better ways to mentor and be mentored. Mentoring opens up all sorts of interesting possibilities for learning.

This past year I had the opportunity to mentor as part of our EdTech Accelerator. I love the process of contributing to these education startups by sharing my expertise and learning from my mentees.

Thanks to today’s online technologies and social networks like LinkedIn we’re all empowered to connect, to follow, and to learn from teachers and influencers. We’re also empowered to share our own insights and our expertise contributing to the learning process.

Over the past several years here at Techonomy we interviewed many thought leaders as part of our Visionary Voices Initiative. These extraordinary thinkers were incredibly generous in sharing their wisdom and inspiring students of all ages. Some of them are actually right here in the audience, so thank you.

One of the most common themes that emerged was the importance of lifelong learning. Access to world‑class learning spans all ages, countries, and socioeconomic classes. In earlier times our career journeys were often predetermined or set on autopilot by geography or even gender. Today they’re anything but.

My ah-hah moment was when I finally realized we never have to stop learning. The sparks of inspiration are truly everywhere, especially at events like Techonomy.  I have no idea what I’ll learn next that could pivot by career journey, but the possibilities for learning and for contributing to the learning of others are exciting and exhilarating. So what about you? Where will your learning take you next? And how will you share it?

Enjoy the journey.

Thank you.

Kirkpatrick: Thank you, Sophie. And since LinkedIn told me this, happy birthday.

Vlessing: Thank you so much.

Kirkpatrick: Happy birthday, Sophie. I love that about LinkedIn.

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