No Budget for Training? Do It Yourself

By | Aug 18, 2010

Today’s article is a guest post from Wendy Stoneman.

In my time with my current employer, I’ve been involved in training a few of our new admins.  At some point in their first year they generally ask about training.  Can they get some sort of training to improve their skills in a particular software program or office process?  (Unfortunately, at our office the answer is “no”.)

Rarely though, is anyone referring to total immersion in a software program when they ask that question.  Usually, they’re getting bogged down with a few tasks in a particular software – they can’t fix footers in Microsoft Word or rearrange pages in an Adobe .pdf file.  They know this lack of mastery costs them time and energy and they simply want to resolve it.

Even without training programs or budgets for traditional or online classes, there are still ways to learn the tips and tricks you need to become more efficient.  I recently became the Adobe Queen of my office.  I’m certainly no expert, but I’ve mastered what I need to solve most issues I’ve run into with any Adobe .pdf file.  Here’s the plan that worked for me:

  1. Identify the area where you’ll get the biggest bang for your buck. I could’ve spent my time upgrading my knowledge of the accounting software (which I use occasionally) or becoming better at Word (which I use every day).  I noticed though, that more and more of my work involved managing and manipulating .pdf files.  It was an emerging trend and no one in the office was an expert – even our IT Helpdesk couldn’t help me.  So, for my own satisfaction, and to make my life easier, I decided to learn more. Pay attention to your work flow – where are you losing time?  What programs cause you the most problems?  Maybe it’s not a program, maybe it’s your filing system or your calendaring habits.  Somewhere, there’s an area for improvement.  You already know what it is.
  2. Start at the source. An internet search led me to the Adobe site and other sites/blogs specifically designed for training in Adobe products.  I found a ton of online tutorials – just like the Microsoft site.  I spent time watching those tutorials that discussed topics that I had encountered or thought I might encounter in the future.  If you have a problem area, there’s probably a website or a blog (or two) with good how-to instructions and useful resources.
  3. Invest in a good reference book. I bought an introduction to Adobe book that started with the absolute basics.  I used it in conjunction with my tutorial viewing to really understand the capabilities of Adobe which would be useful for my work.  I still refer to it regularly.  Never underestimate the value of a good reference book.

So, stop waiting for Human Resources or the Training Department to come up with the perfect class or seminar for your needs.  In this new world of work, it’s up to you to take charge of your training.

About the Author

Wendy Stoneman lives in Vienna, Virginia, and works at a mid-size law firm in nearby Fairfax, VA, where she is a legal secretary in the corporate law division.  Wendy has worked in administrative roles for over 15 years in multiple industries all over the country.

For more information about working with Adobe pdf files, Wendy recommends these sites:

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7 Comments so far
  1. ann (1 comments) August 18, 2010 7:18 am

    Wendy’s right. More and more training is being dropped by offices and must be picked up by the admin if they want to succeed. Great article.

  2. Jodith (189 comments) August 18, 2010 2:38 pm

    My reply to Wendy when she sent me this post was “Wow, I wish I’d written that!” *laughs* I’m almost entirely self-taught in my software. My basic personality is to solve puzzles, so any time I want to do something and don’t know how, I go out and find an answer somewhere.

    Wendy really hit the nail on the head with this post.

  3. Megan Shepherd (1 comments) August 18, 2010 7:26 am

    After reading this post I made an appointment with my IT gal to learn mail merge once and for all! I’m tired of fighting with it everytime I do it. Great advice.

  4. Jodith (189 comments) August 18, 2010 2:35 pm

    Megan – Way to go! Mail Merge was one of the first things I sat down and taught myself in Word. It’s made many tasks so much easier over the years.

  5. Joe (1 comments) August 18, 2010 12:29 pm

    Great article…It’s a reminder that we should all be proactive at the workplace!

  6. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jodith, Jodith Allen. Jodith Allen said: New AdminArts Post: No Budget for Training? Do It Yourself […]

  7. Blackpool Weekend (1 comments) August 27, 2010 9:45 pm

    I made an appointment with my IT gal to learn mail merge once and for all! I’m tired of fighting with it everytime I do it. You give an great advise..

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