I-RISE: why R stands for 'Research'

A crucial part of the Returnship Journey is Readiness, and a huge aspect of Readiness is Technical Readiness. Technical Readiness has many facets but they can all be summarised in one word: I-RISE. That’s right, I-RISE means Introspect, Research, Interact, Skill-up and (E-)Update. Today we are here to speak about the second step i.e. Research - why it is important and how to go about it.
The first step i.e. Introspection connected us back to our professional selves. You will see that simply by the act of gathering your thoughts, thinking about the work you were doing before the career break and the skills you were building as part of it, will make you feel more current, more capable of returning. But the second step is even more important. We have often heard that Time and Tide don’t wait for anyone, today you can add a third to it -  the business environment.
The business environment is always evolving - whether it is a new channel to reach your target audience that all brands are gung-ho about, new languages or platforms that you as a techie should have awareness and perhaps even mastery of, the most talked about merger of two of the giants in your industry, or a new bill introduced by the government that affects your industry and your function.
These are things you used to know, had no problem keeping abreast of, having conversations on, and you need to get to the same place after your career break in order to return. And the way to do it is to tackle it bit by bit, with patience and discipline.
Here we list down some ways of doing a scan on your environment, and arming yourself with the latest knowledge and updates on your industry or function.
  1. Read up on your industry via the good old newspaper. In the early days of you getting back into the game, business newspapers are your best friends, which you should supplement with internet search. Specifically on the internet look for startup friendly publications like inc42, yourstory etc to get the most cutting edge trends. For example, if you are someone who has worked in Retail all your life, it is important to know what IKEA is upto in India, how lendingkart is solving the problems of small traders, and why all brands are going the Omnichannel route. One way to keep updated in real-time on news online is by setting up Google Alerts
  2. Specifically go through some function specific assets/sites that offer the latest on how your function is changing along with recent case studies. Some examples are - Brand Equity, afaqs.com, Marketing Land, Ad Age, etc for marketing and advertising folks, CNN, Bloomberg markets, Forbes Money and more locally, caclubindia.com, ICAI, IWCAI, etc for finance and investment professionals and Techcrunch, Wired, Mashable, Gizmodo etc for Technology related news. One way to keep yourself updated with the content these entities churn out is by following them on social media and subscribing to their newsletters
  3. Start following industry leaders on social media, listen to their interviews and TedTalks - these are the thought leaders and visionaries of your space and nothing spells the future better than what they have to say. When Elon Musk says that Tesla might enter India this year, it is valuable information for someone in the space of automobiles or green energy or both
  4. Join online groups and congregations for your areas of interest such as professionals groups on LinkedIn and Facebook. The discussions on these forums is often good, but even more enriching are the articles and news that get shared - many of which will be relevant for you. In general spend more time on LinkedIn, which is one of the largest platforms in the world for generating a continuous stream of news and opinions related to a myriad of professional topics
  5. Start practising, if you are a content writer, start writing, if you are an investment professional, follow market trends, stocks and even more importantly, start investing with your own money, if you are a coder, start coding. Take on a passion project, with achievable goals and just start
The avenues are endless. If you are determined enough, everywhere you turn, you will see an opportunity for knowledge gathering. Flipping through a magazine and find a 3g sample sachet for a new skin care product? Visiting the town you grew up in and notice every street seller offering the facility to pay via PayTM? These are valuable insights for a marketing professional or someone with a background in banking solutions. 
So keep your eyes and ears open. In fact one of the biggest benefits of this step in the I-RISE process is to help get you back in the groove, where you start enjoying having information and slowly, forming opinions, on everything that has happened in your industry or function in your absence.
So what are you waiting for. Every minute has the potential to be that moment you start your returnship journey from. Start small, build slowly, but the important thing is to Begin.
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