Whether you’re a few years or a few decades into your career, sometimes the itch to make a change doesn’t go away.
But often times making a significant career change means obtaining an additional or new degree. If pursuing more education doesn’t fit into your time or financial availability, you can still take advantage of learning opportunities to invest in yourself without spending a lot of money or making a long-term commitment.
So how do you invest in yourself to continue learning and growing your skills without going broke?
How to Get Started
Here are just a few of the options that you have when it comes to investing in your own learning. The best part? Every single one of them is free.
Gain a New Skill
Learning something new doesn’t always have to cost or be a long process. With the help of educational tools like webinars and free online courses, you can pick up new skills to round out your resume and help advocate for that career change, promotion, or pay raise.
You can take advantage of these educational opportunities during lunch breaks, over morning coffee, or in the evening when you’re winding down. You might not be able to go incredibly in-depth on any given topic just by listening in on a webinar or taking a short, free course, but they’re both great places at which to start for continuing your education. To make the most of your time, look for opportunities with clearly defined topics, discussion points, and outcomes. If the description seems vague with unclear objectives, chances are you’ll walk away with hardly any new information.
At the very least, you can reference YouTube videos and tutorials for step-by-step instructions on how to start learning that new skill you’ve been dying to obtain.
Build Your Network
The saying “your network is your net worth” might sound a little gimmicky, but it’s true. The connections you build now will be invaluable in propelling you forward into other positions and opportunities. Build a diverse list of people with which you’d like to connect. Include a mix of people who are near your level of expertise and up through the executive level and then make a goal of reaching out to someone new every month to start intentionally building your network.
Now, this one could end up costing you the amount of a cup of coffee if you’re meeting in person, but the professional connection is worth it. At the very least, try to connect via a phone call to hear their story and ask questions about their professional journey. Don’t forget to request a connection with them on LinkedIn afterward.
Read to Expand Your Knowledge
Did you know that CEOs read an average of 52 books a year? That’s one book a week! We all love the occasional tv-binge nights, but if some of the most successful business people are reading every week, so should we. Include a healthy variety of books to broaden your exposure and increase your knowledge base. Sometimes the best way to learn is to read historical accounts and explore what’s been done in the past. If you’re unsure of where to get started, check out our recommendation on the 10 books every savvy professional should read.
How to Find Free Options to Invest in Yourself
Short of performing Google searches on your own, here are a few other ways you can find free learning opportunities to invest in yourself.
Industry leaders with a strong online presence
Find people in your industry who are well-known and have a good online presence. Often times these people will be offering free insight in the form of live conversations on social media, YouTube videos, email courses, and more. Check out their websites and endorsements as they might also have links to other organizations or individuals in your industry who provide similar free offerings for professionals to utilize.
Universities with an emphasis on continuing education
Many different universities and colleges provide various different learning opportunities from public lectures that are open to the public, free online courses, continuing education opportunities, and more. This is an especially important avenue to explore if you’ve been thinking about going back to school. If you have certain schools in the back of your mind, this is a great way to try out their curriculum and faculty expertise by exploring their free learning options.
Here at Concordia, we have a few learning opportunities that you can explore to invest in yourself, including several continuing education ones. For example, our free informatics course is now available online for anyone who wants to learn more about the power of data and how analytics can inform and transform impact education, business, and health care.
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