The beauty of a side project is that you don't need anyone's permission to get started. And while your company might not be able to afford to put you in a role in which you'll be mostly learning instead of producing, side projects let you stretch yourself in any direction that interests you.
When you consider how many options are available to you today, it’s never been a better time to take classes as an adult. After I graduated from college, I've taken classes at a community college, taken free courses online, earned professional certifications, and done a lot of studying on my own. Along the way, I've learned a lot about how and why I learn, and it has caused me re-think some of my core beliefs about of education. Here's what I see as the pros and cons of the different ways you can go back to school as an adult.
Being an avid reader benefits you professionally. First, reading stimulates your mind and makes you a better thinker, as incredibly obvious studies such as this one have shown. Less obvious but arguably just as valuable is how books serve as a bridge to connecting with people. Engaging someone about a book that they loved is a great way to build rapport quickly. But how do you find time as a busy professional to read all of the great things that are out there?
The great paradox of learning is that diverse expertise gives you freedom to try more new things, but gaining expertise in one area always means ignoring others, reducing your freedom. Developing expertise in anything worthwhile takes time, and your time is limited. And while it’s not every day that you embark on a new career path, you will regularly make choices about where to develop skills. Whenever you engage in additional training, take a class, jump into a new project, or even choose a book to read, you build knowledge in some areas rather than others...