By Reem Masswadeh, Head of Communications at The PR Academy MENA
Very early on in my career, I understood the importance of continuous learning and accredited qualifications. When I started as a young graduate back in the mid-2000s, I was keen on observing the X factor that made the careers of professionals in this very dynamic and ever-changing industry of communications and PR. And what I concluded was that being observant and open to learning played a foundational role in which way careers went.
For years now, I’ve been mentoring young professionals, especially the ones who’ve just made the shift from bookish PR knowledge to tackling real-world situations. It all boils down to the level and aesthetics of education and approach towards continuous learning. I’ve seen the greatest talents perish and average professionals climb up the career ladders dramatically, just because the latter had accredited degrees in their name or because they kept upskilling their existing skillset.
I’ve always advised newcomers to opt for degrees, diplomas, or certificates while in the profession and to keep adding to their skills if they want to stay relevant in the industry and grow with the pace of changing technology and the resulting needs. I’ve been passionate about encouraging new talents to learn more and push their boundaries so they can be better professionals with each passing day.
Now, as a part of the communications team at The PR Academy, I think I am at the right place! During the process of mentoring and working with teams of new-to-industry peers, I get asked this question very often: Why is it important to learn while in a job and how do we decide on a course?
So, continuous learning is the process of learning new skills and acquiring knowledge that helps one make progress in career – it is about expanding your ability to learn in order to successfully adapt to the ever-evolving work demands, especially in a field like ours that is affected by any slight tech advancements and reciprocates the societal changes. It is rather important to learn while at your job because that is the best way of reexamining assumptions, values, approaches, strategies, and practices and becoming better at your work. In a professional setting, continuous learning is good for not only the individuals but also their organizations, the economy, and the whole society. That’s the power of learning.
Now, coming to the second important concern – how do you decide upon your courses. Accreditation of your course is significant for more than one reason. It is about the course design, the content of the course, the teachers and the experts, and the accuracy and efficacy of what you learn during the course and how it is going to help you in the professional world.
The PR Academy MENA, for example, offers qualifications accredited by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) and delivered in partnership with PR Academy Ltd in the UK. The CIPR is a 'chartered' body, which means it is government-recognized. This adds to the value of the courses manifold.
Our courses include training and consultancy services with a focus on digital and social media, media training, crisis PR, and PR programming, all of which are relevant areas in communication and the ones that are bound to grow and offer more scope for growth.
Overall, continuous learning is a practice that should be encouraged – that’s what I’ve learned from years of mentoring young talents in the PR industry. Continuous learning was always an added asset, but it is now important (more than ever) given the circumstances the world and the industry in specific are facing.