I am Priya Small, an independent public health evaluation consultant, and today I will talk about lessons I have learned from riding the steep learning curve. Many times we may tend to devalue our early learning experiences as evaluators. But as this is a time of rapid growth, sharing these lessons is profitable.
Lesson Learned: Listen more, speak less. Observe more, take less notes. Pay especially close attention to how veteran evaluators manage meetings with stakeholders, build relationships, and resolve potential conflicts. Such learning opportunities may be scarce later.
Lesson Learned: If you are waiting for that job opportunity to come through, consider working on a pro bono project. This can offer a valuable opportunity to craft a useful evaluation in your interest area. Pro bono work can provide immediate motivation to sharpen and fine-tune your evaluation skills and network. The best way to perfect your skills is “on-the-job.” Look for committed managers who are open to seeing the value of evaluation. Negotiate a written agreement that clarifies project responsibilities.
Lesson Learned: Compete less and cooperate more. Team work has great potential to produce optimal outcomes. Don’t hesitate to support other evaluators by commenting on their blogs, joining discussion groups, etc. In a very organic manner, this has provided me with opportunities to collaborate.
Rad Resource: The AEA365 blog! It is easy to get “tunnel vision” as we get caught up in our own projects. This can stifle creativity and innovation. Read and reflect on AEA365 blogs posts regularly to see a panoramic view of the vastness of the evaluation landscape. You might just pick up other “Rad Resources” on the way. Endeavor along with me to never stop learning from others. And I encourage you to also reach out by posting your own lessons learned on the AEA365 blog!
Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.