Doing Your Homework

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Do you remember how you became familiar with the whole concept of “homework”?

I remember there was a time, maybe when I was in grade school, that I looked forward to having homework. I believed it was a hallmark of being a “grown-up” student if I had the privilege of taking my workbooks home with me after school.

Fast forward to high school and the concept of homework took on a completely different meaning to me.

I’m sure it did for many of us when we went from doing multiplication charts and spelling tests to trigonometry and English literature.

Homework was officially a chore—it was something that stood between us and our freedom of being young and carefree with our friends after school.

But I learned that homework is not something that ends with the school bell or even after you get your college degree. 

Homework can come about as a result of simply doing our jobs as communicators.

For instance, I was tasked with helping my supervisor draft a proposal about integrated marketing communications in the higher education setting.

I had no prior knowledge about how marketing communications works in a higher education institutions, let alone how it would look as an integrated model. What did I do?

Luckily, I have access to my university’s library. I rolled up my sleeves and thought like a student again—what has been written or studied on this topic before? What do other universities do to integrate their communications? Has anyone presented best practices at any of the major higher education conferences?

With a little help from the library journal library and Google (because let’s be honest, we all Google things to kick-start our research), we were able to draft a well-informed proposal for our department leadership’s review.

That research, or homework, helped inform a better proposal because it was based on current data and facts that supported our claims.

Image: nuttakit / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As communications professionals, we do this sort of homework all the time without thinking about it.

We research best practices or prior institutional accomplishments to establish our benchmarks for our strategies. We can’t simply pull random numbers out of the sky (although that’s been known to happen…admit it!)

Homework can also come about as a result of voluntary action on our parts.

The past few weeks, I’ve been preoccupied with homework from a graduate course I enrolled in this semester. And I’ve also had homework for a supervisory development course I’m taking as part of an HR professional development program.

My homework in this sense was actively sought on my part because, personally, I simply craved a scholarly outlet to stretch my thinking and to learn something new.

It’s no secret that as we age, our minds and the way we remember things change, but that doesn’t mean we cannot learn new things.

Homework can help reinforce learning and cause us to stretch our mental muscles to develop new ways of thinking about problems or issues as they relate to our professional and personal lives.

I’m learning more about this concept as I have started taking classes toward another graduate degree in adult and organizational development. And it’s been interesting because I am learning how adults learn as a learning adult myself!

Homework might not be the same tedious process it was when it was fraction tables and vocabulary lists.

It can actually be an important component of our daily professional lives and also help enrich our personal lives, whether we recognize it or not.

What kind of homework do you do in your job? Have you taken on any non-work related classes or projects that have required homework as well?

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April 11, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , . Career.

5 Comments

  1. Michael Parks replied:

    Very good post, Krista. I could not agree more and believe that by “doing our homework”, especially on topics outside our daily focus, we become more rounded and effective communicators. Great job!

    • Krista replied:

      Thanks, Michael! It somehow makes the notion of homework seem less tedious when you think of it in the context of helping and supporting our work.

  2. Joshua Brett replied:

    Thanks for the insights, Krista. And looking back on those school years years after the fact, I appreciate the importance of that homework in helping me learn the material, as tedious as I often found it at the time. That holds true nowadays as a professional.

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