5 Free Online Tools for Professional Development
In the internet era, it has never been easier to find free tools for your professional development. With everything from quick online courses in professional networking all the way up to full online MBAs available online, there are many options for an experienced professional boosting their skills. Moreover, online options are far cheaper than in-person classes thanks to their scalability. However, an often-overlooked portion of the professional development market is what you can get for free. From language training to coding classes, the expense should never be an excuse to not boost your resume!
Duolingo is an immensely popular online platform for learning and practicing languages online. From French to Mandarin Chinese to Klingon (for all the Trekkies out there), there are options to suit any learner. The most popular language for English speakers is Spanish, with 126 million people learning. As one might expect, European languages are more popular, as the Latin letters make it easier to learn. Meanwhile, languages such as Hindi and Arabic are far less popular.
In an increasingly globalized world, proficiency in other languages can be a deciding factor when the next executive marketing position opens up. Duolingo lessons are very short, often taking less than 15 minutes each, and are the perfect length for fitting in while you boil pasta or kill time before running out to pick the kids up after school. Even if you only have 20 minutes per day to dedicate to your professional development, over time you’ll find that you spend less time watching reruns of How I Met Your Mother and more time practicing your pronunciation of German.
Udemy is a platform that offers both free and paid online courses in a vast array of courses. However, it is perhaps most popular for its free online computer language courses. Udemy’s offerings in basic Python and HTML coding are particularly popular among all kinds of learners. In fact, many college students studying computer programming through formal lessons use such online courses to help reinforce their understanding of the course material.
While free online courses may not be enough to make you into a professional software developer, even administrative jobs require some levels of computer literacy. A basic knowledge of key languages like Python and Java can help to set you apart and contribute to your professional development. Many of these free courses will grant you a digital certificate to serve as proof of your learning, making it easier to include your new skills on your resume.
Podcasts are often overlooked as an excellent platform to learn about new ideas and gain some professional development. For example, NPR’s Planet Money Podcast is immensely popular and features over 850 episodes that address current developments in the economy and explain economic principles in plain English. On the other hand, CNN’s publishes its insightful Global Public Square show featuring political commentator Fareed Zakaria as a podcast.
While listening to podcasts is not really a skill that you can chalk up on your resume, it can serve to broaden your horizons and understanding of the world around you. Keeping up to date on economic trends can prove invaluable for your team, and help you to give invaluable insight in your next product strategy meeting.
Online Certification Programs
Many business service providers offer free training and certification programs in using their products. Sometimes, you need to be a licensed user, but in other cases like HubSpot and Google Analytics, you can get trained and certified without ever paying a cent. However, such certifications are only useful if you plan to be using that product. Not many of the skills are transferable. However, if your company uses online services like Salesforce, HubSpot, or Google AdWords, you can advance your professional development by working through an online certification course.
Being well-read is perhaps one of the most overlooked but incredibly useful intellectual traits a person can have. Think about how often you reference a common high school book in your discussions at work. Chances are that you’ve referenced The Great Gatsby or Of Mice and Men in passing without really being conscious of doing it. Reading classic literature, especially American Classics, can grant you a reference when trying to explain ideas and can help you to understand what drives people, from your team to your customers.
Project Gutenberg is a free website that carries tens of thousands of E-books for free that can be downloaded to any major e-reading device. All of the books are out of copyright and therefore are free to use. While many of these are relatively obscure, some great classics including Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn make for great vacation reads. And while this is another professional development tool that won’t show up on your resume, it will be apparent when you are a more literate and competent team member or manager.
What are your favourite free online tools for professional development? Comment below and let us know if we missed any?