While freelancing and working from home can present some formidable challenges, let’s face it — there are also some pretty serious perks. You make your own hours, wear whatever you like, and work when you want to.
But there’s a huge upside to a self-directed professional existence that many folks fail to take advantage of, and that’s the ability to carve out time to take a class (or complete an online training) that builds your professional repertoire. In an economy in which new jobs (and skillsets) seem to appear everyday, the idea of education as something that can be “completed” seems ludicrous. Keep on learning; the world depends on it. In fact, I’ve taken four classes — online and in-person — over the past two years, and I’ve been able to directly apply most of what I’ve learned in my work as a creative professional.
Taking a class is also a great way to shake things up, gain some new perspectives, and in some cases, meet new people. Here’s a little roundup of a bunch of professional training options out there. Some are short, consisting of just a few online video modules, and others are set up more traditionally.
And remember, a skill you develop by taking the right course usually pays for itself in the form of higher pay or a new job, so there’s pretty much no excuse not to get out there and hit the books — or in many cases, the HD streaming video.
Fizzle is a site that provides both a large library of training videos and a community of other entrepreneurs to lean on as you build a small business. These folks are really geared toward helping people get their operations off the ground, offering courses like “Start a Blog That Matters” and Affiliate Marketing the Smart Way.” Right now, they’re offering a free 5-week trial and then it’s 35 bucks a month after that.
I can’t really say enough good things about Lynda.Com. It’s basically an online Library of Alexandria when it comes to video tutorials on just about anything you could think of, from design thinking to Adobe Premiere (I’m currently taking that one). What’s more, if you live in San Francisco, it’s free if you get a public library card. Otherwise, monthly subscriptions start at $19.99.
Trailhead is the online-learning division of Salesforce, the head honcho of the CRM space. Learning the ins and outs of Salesforce is a good idea for people across a variety of industries, and it’s all free. Take advantage of courses that teach you not just about the ubiquitous software, but instruct you in general programming and sales skills, too.
Your Local Community College
Community Colleges are great places to take a class or to in order to beef up certain skills. Classes are often held at night (or offered online) and cater to people who work, and many instructors are actual professionals working in the field you’re learning about. Also, classes are relatively cheap and depending on your situation, you might even be eligible for grants or financial aid.
General Assembly has been around since 2011 and caters to the market of young people entering tech. They offer courses online and at a variety of locations across the U.S. in subjects like web development, digital marketing, UX, and data science. Their brand is pretty hip, and their classes are often fairly self-directed.
Learn to Code
So, there are hundreds of options when it comes to learning how to code. To that end, I thought I’d share what appears to be a fairly comprehensive list of free online options to choose from. If you want to go the paid route, there are an equal number of options both off- and online, and many offer a tuition reimbursement guarantee (like this one at Bloc.io, since, yeah, there’s that much of a need for coders these days.
Udemy is another online-learning portal similar to Lynda.com, but while Lynda is a subscription-based service, Udemy offers classes on a per-course basis (although they are kind of expensive). They boast an unbelievable catalog of over 55,000 classes, so there’s definitely something in there you’d be interested in. They also offer frequent discounts, such that some classes normally costing hundreds of dollars are available for just $10.
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