I expect my English majors not to balk when I ask them to learn new software. One good way to learn is to shadow someone who already knows it well. Even better, work with a classmate who’s just a step or two ahead — that way they can both learn together.
In my “News Writing” class, I deliberately didn’t spend a whole week introducing students to InDesign.
I could have recorded a step-by-step video tutorial, carefully walking the students through every mouse click, but that wouldn’t really have taught them much. And truth be told, the students who spent an hour or so watching the video and then repeating the same steps on their own won’t be able to put “InDesign Expert” on their resumes.
And that’s okay. “News Writing” is not a design class. I was actually more interested in getting the rising mid-level staffers to think of themselves as leaders with valuable knowledge and skills to pass along. So I asked for volunteers to walk the less-experienced classmates through the process of completing a two-page magazine layout. We were able to spend class time on other things (today we discussed the JFK assassination coverage and eggcorns). And the rising mid-level staff members got experience in teaching technical skills. (Who wouldn’t want to hire someone with a proven track record in not only learning and applying new technical skills, but teaching those skills to their peers?)
You HAVE to Build Your Technical Chops – Adding “Proficient in Microsoft Office” at the bottom of your resume under Skills, is not going to cut it anymore. I immediately give preference to candidates who are ninjas in: Photoshop, HTML/CSS, iOS, WordPress, Adwords, MySQL, Balsamiq, advanced Excel, Final Cut Pro – regardless of their job position. If you plan to stay gainfully employed, you better complement that humanities degree with some applicable technical chops.