This story was originally published on YourMississaugaBiz.com.
Local entrepreneur Bill Smalley has been teaching a business course on negotiating skills in the University of Toronto Mississauga’s continuing education program for the past three years.
The president and CEO of Oakville-based consultancy firm Route Five International Inc. has a background in sales and marketing, teaching leadership and team building, as well as 13 years of experience as a corporate trainer and professional speaker.
Smalley explained to YourMississaugaBiz.com why more business professionals should sign up for con-ed classes, and what they should expect once they’re on campus.
Your classmates can come from all over
Whether it be cultural experience, ethnicity, industry or career stage, Smalley said the variety in peers will give additional, unexpected value to a class. “I’ve had people exchange business cards and keep in touch afterwards and help build their networks,” he said.
It’s normal to have low expectations
This is a common thing in Smalley’s course evaluations. “They’re often surprised at the quality of the content and how useful and relevant it is,” he said. “How much it helps them.”
Pursuit of education is a big trend
“More and more we’re seeing people who realize it’s a competitive environment out there, careers and jobs aren’t a static situation, it’s a fluid environment and there are always other people that are learning and growing around you so you need to keep your skills sharp and stay relevant.”
It’s not like when you were last in school
“It can be fun,” Smalley said simply, contrasting it with his own experience in school as being incredibly boring. “[As an instructor,] you want to make it fun, you want to make it engaging, so it can be a really enriching experience.”
It looks great on your resume
A specific course or program might give you skills particularly relevant to your particular industry, but Smalley said pursuing additional education also helps someone stand out in the hiring process.
“Employers look for people that want to better themselves,” he said, explaining the inclusion of continuing education shows someone’s initiative, desire to grow themselves, and be better. “That will definitely give you an edge.”
Some results can happen right away
“People go back to their existing jobs and do better,” Smalley said of some of his past students, who passed on news of promotions or other kinds of professional growth as a result of his class.
It might not cost you anything
Many of Smalley’s students actually have the cost of their classes reimbursed by their employers. It’s worth looking into if your workplace has some sort of education subsidy or other program that can help offset class fees.
However, Smalley said for students who were responsible for all of their fees, the benefits always far outweigh any financial costs. “I have never had any student say to me that they rejected the investment or the time invested,” he said.