Job Description: Lifelong Learner

Photoshop World. As soon as I saw the banner ad I knew I needed to be there. It was more than just a conference for creatives in digital media arts, it’s an opportunity to have what I call a “mountaintop experience.”

As a company focused on creating meaningful learning experiences for children we are committed to the challenge of helping kids become lifelong learners. It’s more than just a catchy phrase for us, it is a core component of the work our Learning Experience team does in schools throughout the United States.

What may not be obvious, however, is our commitment as an organization to support and encourage this virtue in each of our team members. Every quarter we have an opportunity to review our goals with our leads/supervisors. A key component of our individual quarterly goals is to establish a learning goal. For me, I had a goal of attending Photoshop World in April of this year. Our team lead thought it was a great idea and encouraged me to invite our newest design team member, Audrey Rada.

As creatives within our marketing division, our team designs much of what someone will see or touch when interacting with our company. It also means we are often found in the shirts of our favorite bands/movies (read: Star Wars), playing with color wheels, and discussing the design aesthetic of airport signage. Attending a conference like Photoshop World gave us an opportunity to pick up new skills and gain practical perspectives from designers that are further down the road. More importantly, by escaping our normal routine we were able to connect with each other on a more personal level. I quickly discovered that once I was able to relate to Audrey and her journey of self-discovery, it made honest conversations about our shared work effortless.

Relationships are an important by-product of a commitment to continued growth and learning. Though many in our organization work remotely, we’ve managed to cultivate a family-like atmosphere, complete with a “hug fest” for anyone that stops in one of our corporate offices.

Though I am proud of the work our team has accomplished I am compelled by this virtue of lifelong learning to continue to pick up new skills, ask ourselves deeper questions, and pursue a greater understanding of our craft. As I stated before, this is more than just a great phrase that we use for marketing. Team members are not only challenged to seek opportunities for continuing education, but often MeTEOR supports these goals financially, investing personally into the lives of all MeTEORites.

I spoke earlier of a “mountaintop experience.” In May of 2016, I had the opportunity to hike to the top of a certain mountain in Colorado. I honestly had no idea what I would see or experience, I was only told that whatever I found at the top would be meaningful and completely worth the difficult journey. This was a hike with a very steep incline that was sure to take a few hours. As I reached certain milestones like the half-way point I was overcome with amazing views of the valley below.

Photo Credit: Mike Ricks – Gem Lake Trail, Estes Park, CO.

At one point, I stopped to rest and within seconds I was sharing a ledge with a bald eagle. In all honesty, I could have stopped at this point and it would have been considered a worthwhile trek. But I was driven to complete my journey, even though at times I wasn’t sure I could continue.

I’ll never forget the moment I reached the top. It wasn’t something that gradually came into view. What I saw could only be seen within the last few steps to reaching the precipice of this ancient guardian of the west. At an elevation of just under 14,000 feet was a lake. It was beautiful. Its mirror like surface was still. Its cool waters were an invitation to all who had managed the journey.

Photo Credit: Mike Ricks – Gem Lake Trail, Estes Park, CO.

Photo Credit: Mike Ricks – Gem Lake Trail, Estes Park, CO.
Photo Credit: Mike Ricks – Gem Lake Trail, Estes Park, CO.

But like every mountain top experience, there comes a time when we must start the journey back to the valley, remembering what we learned along the way with the hope that we may inspire others to take this journey for themselves. This is what it means to be a lifelong learner. We continue learning not for the sake of more eloquent arguments among our friends, but to reach out to those a few steps behind us. This is why I’m a MeTEORite, and this is why I’m committed to being a lifelong learner.

About the Author: Mike Ricks is the Creative Director for MeTEOR Education. Specializing in the creation of short films, Mike leads our design team in creating much of what you see or touch within our organization. Like all good creatives he can often be found in a stylish sport coat wrapped around a nostalgic t-shirt (read: Star Wars or Legend of Zelda).