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While many people can’t wait to be done with school and get started working on their professional careers, the structure of our educational system offers several benefits to the avid learner. As independent adults, a lot of people find it difficult to learn new skills and accurately assess their level of proficiency. This can lead to all sorts of problems such as insufficient qualifications for a job post, or unexpected failure of a DIY home repair and needing to call an expert Utah plumber to save the house from flooding. When you no longer have a teacher available to point out mistakes, or a coach who’ll inform you of the areas you need to work on, you need to develop greater self-awareness and use these methods to accurately assess your level in any given skill.

List what you know

Online job search websites often have a profile section where you’re required to fill out your key skills, but that’s typically done in bullet form to keep things concise for prospective employers. Take an in-depth approach; list things you know, projects accomplished, and any applicable specialization. If you’re a hobbyist photographer, do you shoot both film and digital? Are you skilled in the post-production process, or do you spend most of your time and efforts on taking the actual shot? What genres have you worked in – portraiture, landscape, events, and so on?

Do further research

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A good grasp of what you know is half of the equation – the next step is gaining awareness of any gaps. Frequent online research and following reliable, informative sources on blogs or social media is a great way for you to stay attuned to a particular field. Self-taught programmers would be well-advised to stay informed of developments in their chosen platform; Android developers, for instance, will be able to create and maintain apps which are more efficient, responsive, stable, and compatible with a wider range of devices, if they remain up-to-date with the latest changes in Android OS.

Take third-party tests

Most people tend to be somewhat biased, even when attempting an objective self-assessment. Who wouldn’t want to be quizzed on something they are familiar with? You’re far more likely to get it right if you stay within a comfort zone. But third-party tests for various skills can be found across many online sites; these let you take a comprehensive exam and get a better idea of your overall level of mastery. Many also provide you with certifications that will help you use those results to achieve further progression in your chosen field.

Get feedback

Being in a school environment or working in a team setting also provides constant opportunities for peer feedback. This valuable yet often overlooked benefit can go missing when you focus on developing a skill in your spare time, without any partners or mentors. A good workaround would be joining a community of enthusiasts or participating in discussions, even on an online forum for your niche. Post the details of your latest project and many of your fellows will be glad to help with advice from their previous experiences; this way, you can accelerate your improvement and open up to different perspectives.

Beyond the school environment, continued growth is largely based on your personal effort. In addition to this commitment, use these tips to maintain a high level of awareness and honest assessment of your skill level so that you’ll further improve and address the most urgent areas of need.

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