”Last year (whilst studying) I started a full-time role as a product manager at a startup in Australia (Sonder)— it’s a new-age role in a barebones industry, so expecting there to be L&D is just naive.
Fortunately, with a lot of help, I’ve been able to put together a curriculum for both this role and life in general. Here are the 3 key steps I’d recommend to help you assemble your own curriculum and continue a life of learning:
1. Figure Out What You Don’t Know 🤔
Not that I respect the guy, but ol’ Donald Rumsfeld is famous for talking about “known unknowns” (stuff you know you don’t know), and “unknown unknowns” (stuff you don’t know you don’t know).
When starting off trying to create a plan of learning it’s important to survey the field and keep a list of gaps in your knowledge, habits you should form, and challenges to take on.
So where to learn from?
Follow the Best: One of the easiest ways to start off is to learn from the best people, the masters. These can be your senior colleagues, your mentors, or people just a few years older than you in different companies but similar roles.
Seek the Watering Hole of Knowledge: Depending on your industry there’ll likely be a service, content library, or accreditation school that contains a wealth of information, find it, and create lessons of your own. This is great for technical learning.
Flock to Like-Minded People: Go to the meetups, after-work drinks, or heck start your own friend group by reaching out to people over LinkedIn and bringing them together. What’s more, as time passes, these people are likely to progress and they can continue to give you guidance on how to progress to as they stay a few steps ahead of you.
2. Put it Together 🧱
So now that you know some what you don’t know and where to learn it, document that list as a “curriculum” of sorts, whether it be Notion, GSlides (god I’m exciting), or even pen & paper.
A key consideration is to REALISTICALLY size each topic. Be conservative about how often you can commit to learning (weekly or monthly), how much time you have, and then break your topic down into different sub-topics.
For myself, I usually do core learning across two 3 hour blocks each week (6 hours in total), so I’ll set myself a learning sub-topic that I can absorb in 4 hours as I’ll often need more time to process the knowledge too.
Here’s an example of an economics curriculum I put together to boost my commercial acumen, as part of an overall goal to learn the first year topics in an MBA within 12 months.