Never Stop Learning

By Caroline Volpe, Compass Market Research, Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, caroline@compassmarketresearch.com

When my seven-year-old complains that she hates school and learning, I routinely tell her that learning is not exclusive to school and that she will spend her entire life learning. While I know this, several recent experiences clearly reminded me of this fact—specifically, the need to learn from your mistakes. These recent experiences also served as my inspiration for this column.

In looking back over my ten-plus years as a member, I’m amazed by how much I have learned by being involved in QRCA.

One of the obvious ways is through the many formal educational opportunities that allow QRCA members to learn from their peers, including: Chapter and SIG meetings, the Annual and Worldwide Conferences, Qcasts and Ycasts, as well as the events sponsored and organized by the Inclusive Culture Committee (ICC). Now, using the new Qualology Learning Hub at https://qrca.ce21.com, you also have the opportunity to view some presentations that you may have missed.

However, the numerous events organized by QRCA are not the only opportunities. We also have the VIEWS magazine and podcasts (https://qrcaviews.org/features/podcasts/) as well as the Qual Power Blog (http://bit.ly/QualPowerBlog). I’ve also learned quite a bit from reviewing posts on the Member-Only Forum as individuals seek information from their peers about various topics, including how to approach a research problem and research resources they are seeking.

I did not expect to learn as much as I have through my involvement with QRCA.

Simply by being an active member, I’ve had the opportunity to learn from my informal interactions with other members at the various in-person and virtual events. These informal conversations with colleagues about what we are working on or challenges we may be facing have provided me with insights that I could apply to future research projects.

I’ve also had the privilege of presenting at QRCA events, helping me to strengthen my presentation skills. A benefit of presenting at QRCA conferences is working with a liaison who provides invaluable feedback during the presentation development process. Presentation skills are something we all use as qualitative researchers.

As a SIG co-chair and also working with the QRCA Philadelphia Chapter, I have helped to plan virtual and in-person events, which has helped sharpen my project management and organization skills.

Finally, my time on the board has provided me with innumerable learning experiences. Three come to mind immediately. First, I’ve had the pleasure of serving with a diverse group of individuals. This has provided me with the opportunity to learn from the various points of view that they bring to the board discussions. Second is the ability to sharpen management skills that I have not had to use much since staring my own independent research business. Finally, I’ve also learned a lot about the business of running an association. I hope to apply some of these learnings to my own business in time.

My experience of being involved in so many aspects of QRCA has made me a better person, a better colleague, and a better researcher. However, I also know I’ll never be done learning, and the next lesson is just around the corner. I’ll leave you with some inspiration from French composer, arranger, conductor, and jazz pianist Michel Legrand: “The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize the less I know.” —Michel Legrand, French composer, arranger, conductor, and jazz pianist