Teaching Myself Technology

This is the first of three follow-up pieces to my piece last week about my online presence, concerning hard skills. Posts on people and networking skills and establishing individuality are still forthcoming. Each post will build on the previous posts ultimately highlighting my unique skill set.

Today’s post, if you couldn’t tell by the title, is about my self-taught tech-skills. I’m discussing learning html, graphic design/editing software and podcast editing and how they have helped in my professional life. I’ve learned and refined other skills including copy editing (always a work in progress), mobile design programs and time management to name a few, but I wanted to focus on the bigger skills for this piece.

2015 08-26 HTML SampleLet’s start with the first I learned: html. Sure, most platforms have WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) interface, but having the ability to go in and fix formatting issues from font size and space to photo alignment is critical. When you add in the ability to build more complex things like lists and tables this has become an invaluable skill in my professional life. I am able to build, design and edit webpages and solve most formatting problems on my own. I can even use this to find out how other webpages are built (by viewing the source code) which allows me to continually expand my html knowledge!

And the best part is you can learn all of this online for free! I used w3schools HTML Tutorial a lot of the time, which is who WordPress, my blogging platform, suggests.

2015 08-28 Design Sample from 2014The next step up for me was: photo editing and graphic design software. This was a combination of working in a communications position where I needed to learn the skill AND my personal desire to make my blog more aesthetically appealing to me. Luckily, my personal computer came with Adobe Creative Suite, specifically Photoshop and InDesign. To the right is an example of a fun project I did for our local street party. There wasn’t a need for anything fancy and its quirkiness fits the street perfectly!

In learning these programs for my own personal use it’s benefited every employer I’ve had. I’m able to do basic design and layout work, from banners for websites and banners for sponsors to print pieces, ultimately cutting expenses down. Perhaps more importantly, I’m able to talk to designers and printers in the language they use and I know what is and isn’t possible in most cases.

Again, I didn’t take any expensive classes and learned these skills out of a book on my own personal time. I used the Adobe Classroom In A Book series to teach myself both programs.

2014 04-15 CRWM EditingThe final thing I’m going to talk about, and perhaps the most important to my current career is learning how to podcast. You may wonder how this will help me in a career in development and alumni relations and the answer is conversations.

I’m in the process of editing my seventh episode of Come Read With Me and each episode is easier to record and edit. I’ve used all of the previous skills discussed for podcasting from html skills for podcast submission to designing my logo in Photoshop. I also learned yet another new piece of software, Garageband, by taking an online course (through Lynda.com). This taught me how to edit sound files and ultimately make a better podcast and hold better conversations.

Sure, a lot of it was trial and error. Going back listening the first one is a little embarrassing, but each episode flows better than the last and the editing improves each time with the technical skills I’ve learned. However, podcasting has also taught me a lot about conversations.

Before every episode, I spend time researching my guests. Sure, they’re my friends, but the entire podcast is about getting to know them better through my chosen vehicle: reading a book and discussing it. In researching my guests/friends and talking to them over the podcast I find out more about their passions and what they’re interests are. This research and the ensuing conversations are invaluable skills in the fundraising profession, especially if I decide to go into front-line fundraising.

I didn’t touch a lot on social media this time, because that falls more within the networking skills I will talk about next week. And I can’t wait to delve more into the idea of discovering my voice and aesthetic in two weeks.

Have you noticed any skills you’ve developed through your passions and hobbies that have helped you in your career? How have you presented that on your resume or LinkedIn profile?

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10 thoughts on “Teaching Myself Technology

  1. Interesting post! It’s wonderful when hobbies help us hone skills that are applicable in professional environments. Through blogging, I’ve developed writing skills that are useful in my legal practice (particularly when it comes to explaining legal concepts to a lay audience). I’ve also learned how to use graphic design software, an ability that’s come in handy when developing presentation materials for work.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! And honestly if no one reads these pieces, it’s been incredibly helpful for me to be able to quantify what it is I’ve gained from blogging. I love that you talk about learning to adapt to lay audiences because I feel the same about that!

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  5. Wow, you’ve been blogging a lot this month! I’m so behind, haha.

    This series of posts is great. I always feel like I need to justify my hobbies with some professional take-away, and I think that’s definitely interesting to do, but it’s also nice to remember that just having a passion in your life, like you have here, positively affects your attitude at work and within your professional and personal relationships. It just makes you a happier, more interesting, person.

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