SWE is excited to announce Danielle Schroeder, PE (she/her/hers) as this quarter’s Advance Power User! We asked Danielle some questions regarding her dedication to lifelong learning and how she used the Advance Learning Center to achieve her goals.
How have the courses offered on the Advance Learning Center assisted you with any career transitions or achieving your career goals?
As a recently licensed professional engineer, I have loved completing the courses that offer PDH credits on the Advanced Learning Center (ALC) as I can use them towards my PE renewal. I strive to be an inclusive leader, so I have also loved watching the courses in the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) content track. There is even a digital badge dedicated to DEIB where earners of this badge are prepared to apply inclusive leadership practices, including addressing unconscious bias, confronting cultural bias, and more. My career is starting to transition into Project Management, so I am excited to see that there is a whole series on the ALC titled, Project Management Skills for Project Managers that I plan to watch in the future.
How do you measure your progress in your learning journey, and how do you set goals for yourself?
Our company does a great job of helping us set goals through our annual performance review. Throughout the year, our managers help us to set measurable goals for ourselves and provide the resources we need to reach those goals. For example, when I was studying for the PE Exam, my company provided me access to a PE Review Course as well as dedicated learning time to take the PE Exam. For setting goals, I like to set a large goal and then break it into small subgoals. Keeping with studying for the PE Exam example, I set the goal to take and pass the PE Exam by the end of 2022. As this was a large goal, I then broke this goal in the following more manageable subgoals: schedule at least 12 weeks of studying, complete at least 400 problems before exam, and at least 200 hours of studying which I used to create a personal study plan. I also recommend finding an accountability partner who can help you stay on track with your goals.
When I am watching courses in the ALC, I like to have a note pad in front of me where I can write down points to reinforce what I am learning. The knowledge checks that are a part of several of the ALC courses also help me test that I understood the material presented or if I need to rewatch.
How do you balance your learning with other priorities in your life, such as work or family obligations?
I heavily rely on time blocking using my Google Calendar to balance all my priorities. Any personal pending deadline or events I plan to attend are added to my calendar as soon as I know them so that I do not double-book myself and give myself ample time to complete tasks. To incorporate learning into my other priorities, I make sure that I schedule time in my calendar for learning. For example, I will block out my lunch hour occasionally to watch a course while I eat my lunch.
Which courses on the Advance Learning Center did you find most valuable or would recommend?
I have several favorites, but the one I would recommend for all to watch is Confidence and Influence in a Challenge: How to Pivot and Turn Adversity into Opportunity with Alaina G. Levine. I first saw Alaina present at the Collegiate Leadership Institute that I attended when I was in college and her presentations are always so informative and entertaining. This awesome session focuses on clarifying the power of your influence, no matter where you are, and how to lead through challenging situations and pivot into relationships and projects that are conflict resistant.
I am passionate about teaching the next generation how rewarding a career in engineering can be, so I also have loved all the courses in the Advocacy & Outreach content track. This is also where the SWE Youth Protection Training Course is listed that all volunteers and staff interacting with youth need to complete every three years.
As someone who is working on learning Spanish again, I personally have loved watching the translated webinars available. There are also some sessions that have been translated into Korean, Portuguese, and Chinese!
In your opinion, what are the benefits of being a lifelong learner, and how do you think it can enhance one’s personal and professional growth?
Just like it is important to exercise regularly, exercising your brain is important too! The human brain can change and develop throughout our lifetimes so being a lifelong learner keeps our brain nimble. Using tools like the ALC can help improve your brain fitness and embrace a growth mindset while learning about new topics relevant to the engineering and technology fields. Having a growth mindset will undoubtedly affect other areas of your life as well. For me personally, I recently took up snowboarding which seemed daunting at first. But over time and setting small goals, I am now getting down Blue or Intermediate trails with ease.