Summer U: Finding your own lesson plan

My earlier post suggested that we, as marketing professionals, expand our summer reading list to include business intelligence. Likewise, instead of ditching your books like Alice Cooper's "School's Out," I recommend also considering summer school.

My earlier post suggested that we, as marketing professionals, expand our summer reading list to include business intelligence. Likewise, instead of ditching your books like Alice Cooper's “School's Out,” I recommend also considering summer school.

Please don't take the idea as a literal suggestion to spend sunny weekends in the classroom, but do consider a modern approach to learning this summer. Summer is the time of year I can free up brain capacity and pursue skills that help me better lead, mentor, and achieve goals for our organization. Knowing that time constraints are real and budgets vary, I came up with a simple roadmap to help you choose a summer learning path that's right for you. Consider the following:

Make a commitment
Decide how much time you are willing to commit – could be an hour a week, one day over the course of the summer, or a full semester – and stick to it. Set realistic goals so you feel a sense of accomplishment.

Create your curriculum
Select an area of focus. Core skills enhancement will help improve your day-to-day routine but test-driving a new field may encourage creativity and diverse thinking.

Find your classroom
Find an environment that allows you to listen and think. If a hammock works for your podcast, reserve it.

Participation counts
Whether you're attending a class or listening to a webinar from home, challenge yourself to write questions and record your responses.

Reward yourself
“Summer U” may not offer a diploma, so be sure to celebrate your effort and reward yourself.

Once you've established a personal roadmap, consider integrating one or more of the following ideas into your summer curriculum.

Leadership
Watch a series of 30-second MBA segments on FastCompany.com. Borrowing the format, select three questions you'd pose to your friends or colleagues and record your own responses. Consider posting to your own social channels for feedback and commentary.

Core curriculum
Perusing events from PRSA, AMA, and other relevant organizations are well worth the effort. I also recommend browsing the iUniversity catalogue on iTunes – the marketing and communications section offers noteworthy electives. 

Presentation skills
If you're looking to advance your presentation skills, consider an improv class. There are free or low-cost options offered by theatre groups and, in my experience, improv helps immensely with “on the spot” presenting and speaking.

Digital marketing
Expanding digital knowledge continues to be a top priority across professions. If you're up for a challenge, enroll in the “Intro Computer Science” offered by Udacity. For a quick lesson, download two unfamiliar apps and master them. Evernote and Flixel are on my list.

The PR field continues to evolve, so it's critical we do as well. Challenge yourself to learn, grow, and enhance your skills this summer by enrolling in your version of summer school today. Have more suggestions? Tweet us at @hlgrp or send us an email at msummer@hlgrp.com.

Michele Cerwin is president of HL Group.

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