I’ve always been one of those people who never wants to stop learning. I never want to feel “content”, and I never feel like I’m doing enough. Say what you want about burnout, but I’m one of those people who is always hungry to learn more and do more; I’ve always been this way.
It’s because of this workhorse demon inside of me (totally kidding here), that I am frequently looking to do more things in my office. I’ve thought a lot about my current position in athletics and know that I’d like to move up the ladder in the future, so diversifying my skill set is extremely important to me.
The key here is that you should probably be doing a great job at your current role before you ask for additional roles. I’m not saying that you’re not awesome - because you probably are! - but most people won’t feel comfortable giving you an additional responsibility if you haven’t yet gotten a handle on the things that you already have have going on.
So if you’re like me and want to learn and do more in addition to killing it at your actual job, here are some tips to help:
Ask. I learned a long time ago that no one was going to give me additional opportunities without me asking; even the best supervisors don’t read minds! Asking your boss for new responsibilities or learning opportunities might seem scary, but the worst that they can say is no. There is no harm done in asking, and it shows that you are willing to take on more. How could your boss be upset?
Ask again. After about a year of working at Michigan, I decided that I’d like to learn more about the digital side of communications. I expressed this interest to my boss a few times, but there was a lot going on with new hires and other general athletics priorities, so my request wasn’t exactly at the top of anyone’s to-do list. So in typical Katie fashion, I asked again. Continually expressing interest isn’t annoying; it shows that your interest is genuine and that taking on a new responsibility is something that you’re serious about. That is never a bad thing.
Be reasonable. Sometimes, especially in really big departments with a lot of human and technical resources, there aren’t a whole lot of additional responsibilities to be had. If you’re in this situation, don’t panic. There are always ways to think and grow and learn - you just might have to go about it in a different way. Maybe start by adding a new responsibility that is already related to your job. For example, if you work in marketing, come up with a new marketing promotion and take the lead on it. For those in communications, maybe you have student help but are in need of a formalized internship program that you can help build. Think outside of the box and you will find ways to grow.
Challenge yourself. If you’ve thought creatively and have realized that there truly aren’t a lot of opportunities to grow and learn within your current office structure, etc., then try doing it on your own. I meet so many people who want to be better at Photoshop but say there’s nothing to work on. Well, if you want to get better at Photoshop, make up a project and try it out! Watch a YouTube video or five (or ten) and try your best. Sometimes, there won’t be formal opportunities to learn a new skill but if it’s important to you, find a way.
When you’re offered the opportunity, kick ass. I mean this in the nicest way possible: If you are afforded the opportunity to take on a new role or a new responsibility, knock it out of the park. No one is saying you need to be perfect - especially the first time you attempt something, but you need to show that there is value in you working on said project or said task. And when you’re busy with the job you were hired to do, you need to be able to balance your new role. No one is saying you need to overwork yourself in order to do both, but if you asked to take on a new responsibility, that new responsibility is now your responsibility.