Monday, October 16, 2017

Education and continual learning

You hear so many young people say that when they have finished high school or university that they have finished learning. I always laugh when I hear that because I don’t think you ever finish learning new things.

For some people once they have finished school they are finished with the formal learning but that may change over time. I know that when I finished college I was immediately looking at what else I could be taking to further my education. Now I didn’t take full time school any more but I was one of those people that found going to school, even night school enjoyable. Now that courses are offered online it means that I am taking online classes instead.

I always joke with people and say that I am not sure what I going to do when I grow up because I have taken a variety of courses through the years. I have taken Accounting, Fundraising, Instructing Adults, Project Management and other courses along the way. I find that when I am not learning I am one of those people that gets frustrated. Sure I don’t enjoy the stress of the exams at the end of some of the courses but the reward is nice.

Having the variety of courses behind me means that I have the knowledge in a bunch of different areas and that makes me happy. I recently decided that I wanted to try for a certification that I had heard about and so that is what I did. It was a bookkeeping certification offered through the Institute of Professional Bookkeepers of Canada and to become a Certified Professional Bookkeeper you needed to understand some material and then write an exam to achieve your certification. With having my accounting knowledge from before I figured it might be something that would be useful to have for work so I did some checking into the certification and figured out what I needed to learn and then when I could take the exam. I took the exam in September 2017 and passed it which means I now have the initials CPB behind my name but in order to maintain my certification I am required to take 20 hours of courses each year. So, even with a certification it means that the learning isn’t over but that doesn’t bother me because I enjoy the continual learning.

Learning is something that happens even when you finish school because there will be things that you are going to learn on the job and learn for hobbies. Sure you might not take any more formal courses but the actual learning will not end.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Conferences

There seem to be more and more conferences now and maybe being in IT means that I am a little more aware of the various events. Conferences can range from 1 day to an entire week and how you handle them will basically be based on the length of them. A one day conference is easy to handle because you will be attending some lectures during a day and then after maybe a bit of a networking event you can go home. Now it is the longer ones that are going to be entirely different. I have gone to two and four day conferences and they are both entirely different experiences.

Two day conferences

Now a two day conference or at least the one that I have attended may have early pick-up of your badge and all the attend stuff so that is something that is good take advantage of if you can. Picking up your badge prior to the official start of the conference means that the lines might be a little shorter.

The first day is normally pretty full of lectures, some key-notes and then a networking event in the evening. Yes, the first day of the event can be extremely long and it is up to you how you handle everything. You may want to find a place to hide for a few minutes to ensure that you have the energy for the rest of the event.

Day two is normally a little shorter but again there are going to be lectures, more key-notes and yes the vendor area that has been part of the two days of the event. It can mean that you are going to be running around a lot over the two days but at the end of the second day once the closing remarks have happened you are on your own.

Four day conferences

A four day conference can be similar to a two day conference with regards to the early pick-up of your badge and all the attend stuff. This also gives you time to go over the schedule prior to the actual start of the event and maybe figure out the sessions you may go to. In the case of the conference that I was at there was a dinner set up as a meeting of the attendees. Sure the attendees had to pay their own way at this dinner but it was a great way to start meeting some of the other attendees, especially those staying at the hotel.

I can sum up the first two days of my conference as extremely busy because there were the key-notes, sessions and then there are the evening events that are normally hosted by some of the sponsors. These days can be extremely long and on day two is when the vendors had their booths so they were added to the amount of running around that was involved.

Day three was once again busy with the key-notes, sessions, vendors and then the evening cocktails and banquet. Again another long day but fun as it gave everyone more chances to network. By now most of the attendees were starting to feel the exhaustion set in but everyone still wanted to try and keep going and not miss things.

Day four now this is the wrap up day and for us it was a half day and we were all glad to be heading home after the conference. Again there were sessions, a couple of vendors still around and then the closing key-note and prize draws. By the time the final key-note was delivered people were realizing that the conference was coming to the end and it was sad because some people were heading off to a quick flight home and others were waiting until the next day to fly home depending on their flight schedules. For others it was time to pack up the hotel room and drive home.

General feelings

I have now been fortunate to attend one, two and four day conferences and they are different in some ways. The four day conferences are exhausting and if you aren’t prepared for the crazy schedule and lack of sleep you will be exhausted. I think even with being prepared you hit the point where you can’t learn any more and are ready for the conference to end.

Having the opportunity to attend the longer conferences means that you will also have a chance to network a little more and I realized that being able to stay at the host hotel or a near by hotel can be a great benefit at these longer events. The hotel gives you the opportunity to have a home base and if you want a quick escape even for a half hour you have your own private hiding spot.

Conferences are great for networking and learning new things and I will continue to go to the various conferences and learn what I can.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Scam

Everyone knows that there are hundreds of different scams going on around us and it can be through emails, mail, phone calls or the knock on the door.

Recently we had someone knock on our door and try and sell us something. Of course, we are both very cautious about people knocking on our door especially in the evenings. On a Friday evening we received a knock on our door at around 10 pm so that was a sign of something different. As we live in an apartment building I was able to do the entire conversation through the locked door and was looking through our peep hole at the person.

Now the person on the other side of the door let me know that they were with a major internet provider and asked if we had internet in our home. I asked why he was asking and he then said that this provider had a wonderful offer on internet service for our area and he could give me a good deal. Well if the personal had of been with the provider that was knocking on our door he would have had a list of the units that he didn’t need to knock on. I reminded him that there is a no solicitation notice in our building and he would have to leave and I was going to call someone on him. He did walk away from our door but continued to knock on the doors around us. Yes, this is 10 pm and a lot of people will either be getting ready for bed and some will already be in bed for the night.

The person did have the correct colour shirt on for this internet provider but there was still something that bothered me about the knock on the door, so I decided to call the internet provider to see if they did door to door campaigns. The support and customer service is open until midnight so that meant that I would be able to talk with someone to see if this was a scam or not.

The lady that I ended up talking to with the internet provider was very friendly and was immediately unhappy when I let her know about the knock on the door that we received. Once I explained the situation she put me on hold for a couple of minutes as she wanted to speak with her manager to check to see if door to door campaigns were something that were done and especially at that late a time. When she came back she let me know that they do not do door to door campaigns and especially not at that time of the evening. I thanks her and she did let me know that there were going to note this so that if people from our building called in later that they would be away of the issue being raised right away.

I had a feeling that this was a scam because this internet provider has done a table in our lobby offering the internet service but they haven’t come door to door before. I am thinking that this may be one of the individuals that we get flyers from where they say we can get internet through them at a reasonable price but they have the major internet providers logo on them. I think next time I get one of those flyers I am also going to call in just to see if they really are a reseller for the provider.

People are trying to get smarter and smarter in the ways that they do the scams but we just have to remember to always be cautious when dealing with people. For us, if we want to investigate new services we will either walk into a store front for the store or we will do the reaching out either through the website or phone the company. Knowing that we have done the initial contact gives us a better feeling because then we know it should be the actual company we are talking to and not something just trying to get our information.

When you get that email, phone call or knock on the door remember to use caution when dealing with them. It might be the real company but there will be a lot of times that it isn’t and it is someone just trying to steal your identity.