Most of us are several weeks into following shelter-in-place or stay-at-home orders, with no definitive end in sight. I’ve spoken with a number of people who are stuck at home and wondering how to use this time to do something more productive than cleaning closets and holding virtual get-togethers with family and friends. One answer: Consider taking online classes that not only can keep you entertained but also might provide a career boost once life gets back to normal.
“The pandemic has left millions furloughed or out of work,” says Dhawal Shah, CEO of Class Central (classcentral.com), a site that aggregates online courses. According to Shah, there are myriad course options available for free now; everything from business writing to data analytics, some from Ivy League schools including Harvard and Yale.
“There are some that will apply to you whether you’re a marketer, data analyst, health nutritionist, retail associate, software developer, educator, therapist or anything in between,” Shah says. “It’s the perfect opportunity to sharpen their skills, as well as to learn other [skills] to help with a career change, or to be more valuable/secure when returning to their job. When things start returning to normal and the job market is reinvigorated, there’s going to be a lot of competition for certain positions. Taking online courses can give you a leg up over other candidates because you’ll be able to tout new skills and knowledge on your resume and in your interview that they may not have.”
The same is true if you’re positioning yourself for a promotion.
“If you’ve learned the basics of international business, for instance, you’re going to be more likely to get that position that you’ve been after on the global team,” Shaw says. “Or, if you’ve taken a course on business management or leading teams, you may move into a managerial role quicker than you would have otherwise.”
And no matter what kind of class you choose, your desire to learn during this downtime will show you’re self-motivated, goal-oriented and can manage time well — “all valuable qualities that matter to employers,” Shah notes.
While there is a wealth of opportunities for online learning, Shah says the following list includes a list of some top free career-advancing courses:
–How to Succeed at Interviews
–How to Write a Resume (Provides free certification for a limited time)
–Writing Winning Resumes and Cover Letters
–How to Make an “MBA” Using Free Online Courses from Top 10 Business Schools
–Achieving Your Optimal Performance
–Interview Research and Preparation
–Advanced Interviewing Techniques
–Mindshift: Break Through Obstacles to Learning and Discover Your Hidden Potential
–The Future of Work: Preparing for Disruption
–Career Options: Exploring a New Career
–Effective Problem-Solving and Decision-Making
–Career Brand Development and Self-Coaching
–Professional development: Improve yourself, always
–Creative Problem Solving and Decision Making
–Inspiring Leadership through Emotional Intelligence
–Foundations of Everyday Leadership
Adda Birnir, founder and CEO of Skillcrush, an online tech education school, is another proponent of using this unprecedented shutdown to learn marketable skills. In fact, she says she’s seen an uptick in interest since the crisis hit — particularly from people who were working in the hospitality industry or the performing arts.
“We’ve had a Las Vegas performer, a stage manager from Ontario and another from Toronto, a sous chef from Seattle, and waitresses from Portland, Maine, and Tampa, Florida, all sign up for our courses,” Birnir reports. “All of them are looking to learn new technical skills in hopes of seeking new work during the crisis and considering a potential long-term career change.”
The class list includes sessions on coding, web design and digital marketing and can be taken as three-month, specific skill courses, or as an “everything-you-need” personalized learning program called the Break Into Tech course package.
Another option to consider: The Great Courses, a series of college-level audio and video classes produced and distributed by The Teaching Company. Course topics range from fine arts to effective communication skills to economics and finance and many things in between. You’ll find the full list of classes at the great courses . com.
(Article written by Kathleen Furore)