Lately, career professionals have written a lot of articles about using quarantine time to build your skills, and many people are doing just that.
Where should you start? Although completing an internship is a great way to build skills and expose yourself to new ideas, you can also expand your knowledge through online courses. In fact, an April 2020 report from online education platform Udemy showed a 425% increase in enrollments by consumers and a 55% increase in course creation by instructors.
Check out the low-cost or free opportunities available through the following online learning platforms:
- Class Central
- LinkedIn Learning
- General Assembly
- Google Analytics Academy
- AWS Training and Certification
Other platforms are offering certifications that may be even more relevant for your industry or function but may require more of a commitment of time and money. Additionally, many universities are offering access to their online courses—for example, HBS Online, UC Berkeley Extension, and UCLA Extension.
To find the right course or program for you, reflect on your goals and do your research, and then consider these criteria:
- Your objective: Why are you interested in enrolling? What do you want to learn? What skills do your target companies seek? Do you need a certificate of completion? Do you want to take one course or multiple courses?
- Industry or functional standards: Ask current and former colleagues, friends, mentors, and others for recommendations. Look at the LinkedIn profile of people in your target role to see what types of certificates and/or coursework they completed.
- Quality of content: What do the course reviews and ratings say? Who is the instructor, and what is their level of expertise? What are the learning outcomes?
- Logistics: Will you need to purchase any materials? What is the price of the course? What is the class size? What is the format of the course: asynchronistic or synchronistic? What is the duration of the class/required commitment (i.e., number of hours)?
Finally, once you select and enroll in an online course, maximize your learning opportunity by approaching it in the following way:
- Treat it like a “real” course. Show up! Have the discipline and dedication to listen to classes and complete your homework.
- Hold yourself accountable. Set goals at the beginning of the semester, and check in with yourself weekly. Allot sufficient time to complete the required work.
- Create a regular study space, stay organized, and avoid distractions.
- Figure out how you learn best, and actively participate.
- When completed, add the course/certification to your resume and LinkedIn profile.