Sun | May 31, 2020

Glenford Smith | Afraid to ask questions

Published:Wednesday | September 18, 2019 | 12:00 AM

QUESTION: I have a dilemma which I am hoping you can help me with. I am 49 years old, and there are several younger people in their mid-20s in my department. I sometimes feel awkward when I hear them talking about something and I have to go look it up. Oftentimes, it’s computer related. I want to go back to school, but I’m not interested in a degree as such. What do you suggest?

– Ashley


Thank you for your question.

It is excellent that you realise that you need further education and that the younger employees are using terms that you are unfamiliar with. You must be praised for going to Google search, looking up the term and familiarising yourself with it. I have a suggestion for you though.

Rather than making Google search your best friend, why don’t you call one of the young adults aside and ask him or her? I’m prepared to wager that it would be a pleasure for him or her.

Don’t let your fear of looking foolish keep you back. Many people are afraid to ask questions and expose their ignorance. Make the decision that you will not be one of those people. Let your ego and pride go, and grab on to learning instead.

Forty-nine is not old, in my opinion. Embrace it and feel excited and energised about the opportunity it offers to learn.

You’ve said you’re not interested in a degree, but you need to think about that some more. A degree at your age – or any age for that matter – is something that would do you a world of good. You can do it online so it doesn’t disrupt your schedule, and you can choose the time. It may get you noticed at your company for a promotion.

Now, even if you do not immediately go with the suggestion regarding the degree, you can still benefit from a whole host of options available. Your organisation may have in-house training on a plethora of topics. You should speak with your boss and he or she will direct you.

Your boss can help you figure out what skills you should focus on first. Perhaps something with computers would be useful and most likely be very good for your career. If your workplace does not offer these trainings, perhaps they can send you on a course. But here, you have to show the interest and enthusiasm – which you seem to have already. That means you have to ask to go on the training.

Many colleges and universities offer extension courses in the evenings. One could be the ideal solution for you. For someone your age, you will obviously have to reshape your schedule if you have a spouse, children and other responsibilities. But it is worthwhile.

It is very rare for a company today not to readily provide some incentive to their workers for seeking out and getting more training. If this happens, pay for the training yourself and become more competent. Just one thing: make sure your training is in alignment with what the company wants. I really congratulate you on this initiative you’re contemplating.

Glenford Smith is President of CareerBiz Coach and is the author of ‘From Problems to Power’ and ‘Profile of Excellence’. He can be contacted at