Maybe one of your goals is to change career paths, advance your career or pick-up a side hustle. Aside from drive and motivation you’ll likely need new skills to qualify for a position or feel comfortable transitioning. In this technology and information age, you can find almost anything online. There are blogs with step-by-step instructions, you-tube tutorials to watch, informative podcasts, free classes through different online institutions or consortiums and more, often for FREE!
I’ve jumped career tracks numerous times and have had to build skills each time. I feel lucky that I’m not afraid of change and very seldom fear failure which enables me to dive feet first into a new job, task or project without a second thought. I think back of when I was in college and my first positions outside of school – to find new skills you basically had to attend a training in a brick and mortar building. Now, you can gain skills, learn, read or listen to educational materials online. Despite the online availability of this information and training, it can be an overwhelming concept and process.
The best time for me to learn is when I need to apply a new skill. I often read and research topics, but starting a specific project or task that requires a skill I don’t have is when I learn the best. I was a business major and have worked in the technology and finance industries, family programs that assist military families and most recently, marketing. I transitioned to marketing to allow me to be location independent – my boss allowed me to work remotely when my husband and I moved to Europe for a couple of years. Although I had a few marketing classes in college, I’ve never studied graphic design, which was going to be a large part of my job. I literally, flew overseas, moved into our apartment, received a Mac laptop and had to start creating flyers, banners, social media graphics, and more.
Not only had I never used any graphic design software, I also had only used a Mac one time (and the only thing I remembered was there was no left and right mouse button). It was a little overwhelming, but after a few days of tutorials (hours each day) until I was able to get started using a couple of the different software programs, I was able to get started. After I gained basic skills I then started doing tutorials for specific design aspects (how to auto-wrap text, place images, modify images, use colors, and other design elements, etc.). I continue to learn today and often use tutorials to help me when I don’t know how to do something.
I’m a strong believer that you can do anything you set your mind to and it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to learn. You have to have a goal (idea of what you want to learn in what period of time) and a plan. Here are a list of free online resources you can use to build new skills:
- Youtube (youtube.com): You can find tutorials for almost anything online: wood working, painting, using Adobe Photoshop, applying make-up, using Excel, etc. I’ve used youtube to learn design software (Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign), create Excel dashboards, learn a make-up technique, paint kitchen cabinets, etc. I use youtube at least weekly.
- Lynda (lynda.com): Offers training on a variety of topics (leadership, organization, communication, Microsoft Office products, Adobe Creative Suite, and much more. They charge a small monthly fee, but have a free trial you can use. Lynda is another service I used specifically to learn the Adobe Creative Suite and website management. My company paid for this, but I’d be willing to pay out of pocket for a specific amount of time, if needed. These courses are comprised of small segments that focus on a specific topic. Very easy to follow along, pause and restart, as well as focus on the specific skills you need.
- Ted Talks (https://www.ted.com/talks) offers you over 2300 video talks led by experts in various a variety of fields. These talks can be educational and very inspiring. If you haven’t hear of Ted or listened to any Ted Talks, I’d highly recommend you do. Guaranteed, you’ll find something of interest and more than likely find inspiration.
Have you heard of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses)? They are courses or a course of study available online for free (or steeply discounted).
- Coursera (https://www.coursera.org/) and edX (https://www.edx.org): Both sites offer courses and specializations (set of courses geared toward a specific topic or skill) for free (and for a small fee, you can get an actual certificate of completion). The courses are taught by various universities (including international universities, Ivy League and many notable universities) and have a variety of topics. I’ve taken a couple of courses (business-related) and it was like taking a class toward a degree. There were video lectures, reading lessons, homework, projects and discussions. In addition to furthering your knowledge, this could be an alternative to someone who cannot afford to attend a traditional university.
- There are universities (Ivy League, included!) that offer free and discounted online courses. If you google universities with free online courses the search will return many options. For example, Harvard (that’s right, Harvard!) offers free courses: https://www.extension.harvard.edu/open-learning-initiative.
By no means is this an exhaustive list of free educational online resources, but hopefully allows you to see that you do not need very much money to learn and build skills. I encourage you to check out these resources and continue to look online. The world is your oyster and all of these resources can help you pursue your goals.
What free (or cheap) resources have you used to build new skills or learn a new career?
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