So, it’s going to be a new year, a fresh start. Is continuing education in your new year resolutions? If it’s not, is it because it just costs so much money? I get it. I’ve been living off my own income since I left for college. I had no money to go to college, let alone paying the higher tuition to go to an out-of-state university.
It seemed so easy at the time though…the government had all these loans that were going to pay for my schooling, so I took them! Now, I’m tens of thousands of dollars in debt so I can’t even imagine paying more money out for continuing education.
Boss after boss would tell me how important it is to go to conferences, attend seminars/webinars, purchase subscriptions and association memberships, etc. Yet, they wouldn’t pay for me to do all of these things so why would I put myself into more debt? I really wanted to go and learn though…so I did but I didn’t have to resort to giving up meals so I could pay for it, like I had originally thought.
I did some research and some networking and found that there is a tremendous amount of free and low-cost resources out there to help with continuing education. So, for those of you who are finding yourselves in the same situation I was in, here are some great places for you to start. Below are my top three picks for you to continue your education in 2014 at no financial cost to you:
- HR.com – This website is a wonderful thing for anyone in the business world, not just HR professionals. This site offers great resources, articles and webinars on topics from leadership/management to employment law to employee engagement to social media and communications to technology.
- LinkedIn Groups – LinkedIn is great, in general. However, LinkedIn Groups are truly an educational experience. Not only do they allow you to network and connect with other professionals in your field or industry, but they also help you learn more about whatever you want to learn more about. There is a LinkedIn Group for almost any job/industry you can think of. Ask a question in a group and you’ll probably get a pretty quick answer. This is how I found out about a lot of the continuing education resources that I use now, ways to do my job better and what to do when I run into a tough problem/situation at work.
- Coursera.org – This site offers free, full online classes about various topics from gamification to calculus. The classes last for several weeks, require homework and are taught by professors from well-respected colleges and universities. If there is a topic that you really want to learn more about, this is definitely the place to look. These are not just one hour webinars; they are full courses with free required materials or paid optional materials, homework and classmates that you may or may not have to interact with.I hope that these will get you started for the year as they are phenomenal resources that you can use over and over again. Besides your time, there’s not cost to you. To be successful in the business world, it is no longer enough just to be an expert at your current job. Change is inevitable and our jobs are constantly changing at a pace that can be hard to keep up with. You don’t have to be an expert in several areas of knowledge but having a diverse set of skills and knowledge can really make you shine in any job. It is definitely something I would look for in a job candidate. With my three picks for the new year, you’ll be able to catch up instead of fall behind.
Good luck and please share any free continuing education resources you know and love!