Education is an Ageless Pursuit

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Sara, a new design grad, recently celebrated her 41st birthday. She marked the day by having lunch with her support network – four other women who had also returned to school in their 30s or 40s to pursue a different career, acquire new knowledge or just advance themselves professionally.

Before going back for her design degree, Sara had a successful career as a mortgage counselor. So her return to the classroom elicited mostly puzzlement among her friends and colleagues. “People kept wondering why I wanted to go back to school when I already had a career,” she said, noting that the overwhelming reaction was that “school is for kids, not adults.”
Sarah, of course, disagrees. “The idea that learning is not appropriate for adults…makes no sense to me whatsoever. In fact, I believe learning is more valuable as we get older, because we appreciate it far more than we did as kids.”

Still, for many industries, education is viewed as something you need to start your career, not something you pursue throughout your professional life in order to stay on the cutting edge.

It’s an easy mistake to make. The benefits of work are tangible and immediate: You are able to pay your school loans, your mortgage, your medical insurance. You can buy that new car, or purchase tickets to that hot new show you’ve been dying to see. You can save for the kids’ college, or that vacation home on the shore, or for your own dream kitchen, which you’ve been envisioning since the day you started design school.

The benefits of education, on the other hand, are a bit harder to quantify. Sure, knowledge is valuable. It can help us do our jobs better, bring more to the table when we meet with clients, expand our client base and design skills, and, ultimately, become more profitable. But because it takes an investment of time and money, we often get into the habit of viewing it as a luxury, rather than as a necessity. We put it off, like that vacation we’d like to take but never seem to find time for, or the car tune-up when everything seems to be running fine.

The thing is, continuing education really is a necessity, especially in the kitchen and bath trade, where trends, technology and products change almost daily. And much like the car that doesn’t get routine maintenance, when you fail to make education a priority, you often don’t realize the cost until something big and expensive goes wrong. Unfortunately, by that time, it’s often too late – and while you’re repairing your business’ “engine,” your competitors may well be stealing your customers.

We at Kitchen & Bath Design News have long believed that continuing education is essential to the long-term success of our industry. To that end, over the past few years, we have dramatically expanded our “Designing for Profit” and “Profitable Showroom Design” seminar programs (co-sponsored by National Kitchen & Bath Association) as well as our “Managing for Maximum Profit” seminars (co-sponsored by the SEN Design Group).

So, when the NKBA announced the publication of its Professional Resource Library, we knew this was one more great opportunity to work with NKBA to promote education in the kitchen and bath industry.

The nine-volume, comprehensive guide provides lots of great information from top industry experts about becoming smarter and more efficient in planning, designing, specifying, ordering and managing projects.

The enclosed “Specification Smarts” guide – the first of a three-year series of supplements to be co-produced by NKBA and KBDN – offers excepts from the Professional Resource Library, which we hope you will find valuable in continuing your own education. There’s plenty of helpful guidelines, insider tips and pertinent advice designed to help you stay on the cutting edge.

Of course, educational opportunities aren’t found in books alone. In fact, our industry is rife with educational programs, classes and seminars from a variety of associations and organizations, all offering endless possibilities for higher learning. Whether you want to brush up on your product knowledge, expand your design horizons or just take a planning refresher course, you’ll find plenty of choices in this month’s “Guide to Industry Education” (see related story, Higher Learning).

But whether your preference runs to seminars, books, Webinars or casual networking sessions with peers, you need to remember that education is an ageless pursuit…and one that will pay dividends for your business for years to come. You’re never too young – or too old – to advance your education. And in this exciting, endlessly changing industry, education isn’t just a great way to advance your career, it’s essential to staying competitive.