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Earlywork #12: How To Build Your Own Curriculum At Work
Featuring roles from Verkada, Octopus Deploy, hipages & more + interviews with Clint Chan (Product Manager @ Sonder) & Bennie Liu (Growth @ Earnd)
It’s ya boi Dan and we’re coming through with Season 12 of Earlywork, a (usually) weekly newsletter that gives you:
A shortlist of the best roles for students & recent graduates across tech & startups in Australia (+ remote roles).
Free career resources for young people looking to break into tech & startups.
Interviews with young startup founders & employees.
If you’re not already part of the crew, subscribe now to keep a pulse on our latest stories and conversations:
After doing research with 100+ students and graduates, we’re excited to be piloting a career coaching service for early-career professionals looking to land an awesome role in tech & startups. If you’re actively looking to land a role over the next 3 months, let us know a bit more about you here to be one of the first participants in our program.
💡 Weekly Cheeky Tip:
How To Build Your Own Curriculum At Work feat. Clinton Chan (Product Manager @ Sonder)
Though working at earlier stage companies often comes with diverse tasks, fast-paced work and a lot of responsibility at a junior level, a common drawback of working for a startup/scaleup is the lack of formalised & structured learning compared to joining a mature tech company.
So how do you ensure that you both have a high rate of learning, and are learning the right things?
The answer: building your own learning plan and curriculum.
Whether you’re at a tiny startup or global tech company, intentionality in selecting, engaging in, and measuring your learning is super valuable in ensuring you’re building the right skills for the career path you wish to carve out
That’s why I spoke to Clint from Sonder about his 3-step framework to building his own learning curriculum as a product manager:
”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’s 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. The steps?
Put together a list of the first-year subjects from Stanford and HBS MBA curriculums.
Take a subject like “Fundamental Economics” and break it down into sub-topics.
Take a quick squiz of how much each sub-topic contains, time-estimate it, and then roughly divided the topics until each sub-topic is one week’s worth of learning.
Choose a regular timeframe to learn: Wednesday and Sunday afternoons, and make sure that each week, you commit to the sub-topic allocated.
After breaking each subject down and measuring how long it takes, you have a 12 month curriculum (if all the content broken into weeks was more than 12 months, you can continue it into the next year).
This takes time by the way; it’s not something you can always do in a weekend. I took about 1.5 months to build this one!
3. Check Yo Self 👩🏫
The last part is important but quite hard to do. It’s to test that you have learnt what you set out to learn.
If you’re learning to apply something at work this isn’t too hard; you can ask a more senior team member to test your understanding of a topic, by setting you a small task and asking you to walk through your thinking.
Otherwise, it’s a good idea to take a certification if there is one, give yourself a “task” from an online course, or ask somebody who is knowledgable in that field to give you a test (this can be a task they do commonly at work).
⛅ Intern & Part-Time Roles
Software Tester Intern, Avolution (Sydney)
Junior Producer Intern, Wargaming (Sydney)
Summer Intern, AmazingCo (Melbourne)
CRM Marketing, NoiseNet (Brisbane)
2021 Legal Intern, Adobe (Sydney)
🌞 Graduate & Full-Time Roles
Data Analyst, Class (Sydney)
Support Engineer, Okendo (Sydney)
Frontend Developer, Divipay (Sydney)
UX/UI Product Designer, deferit (Sydney)
Brand Marketing Designer, Mad Paws (Sydney)
Growth Hacker, Verkada (Sydney)
Deal Desk Analyst x 2, Afterpay (Sydney)
Product Support Specialist, Podium (Melbourne)
Customer Service Hero, ClassBento (Sydney)
People Partner, Baraja (Sydney)
🌏 = remote role
1️⃣ 🕐 💪 One Minute Hustle
We are back once again with One Minute Hustle, a bite-sized interview with an emerging Australian young startup founder or operator. Today, let’s get inside the noggin of someone who landed their startup role in a super unconventional way…
Bennie Liu, Growth @ Earnd
What are you working on? Growth @ Earnd. Growth at a B2B company is very different to B2C, think Uber or Facebook. Currently, we’re scaling up demand generation (sourcing and closing interested individuals from other companies) and my work consists of both technical and marketing. On the technical side, I work with a team of incredible developers and designers to lay down analytics infrastructure and build our website. On the marketing side, I build and execute campaigns.
How'd you get started? I had a super weird start! Got into growth by growing an Instagram page from 0 to 85K followers in 5 months. I met Earnd’s founder, Josh, at a university event and pitched him my IG account to try land a growth role and I was fortunate enough that it worked out! If you don’t have experience, I’d suggest you grow something yourself first. It teaches you the basic principles.
Why do you do what you do? I started with a computer science degree but didn’t see myself being a developer. I loved marketing though and growth is the intersection of tech and marketing, so it was a natural fit. It’s a beautiful thing to build something from scratch and have potentially millions of people using it. There’s also no certain path to success and that adds to the thrill. Overused to death but every day is a different challenge.
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