Don't Be a Couch Potato: E-Learn!

Online Training to Better Yourself and Career

Online training to learn a computer program, language, or any other skill that can help you in your career, is time well spent whether you’re employed or unemployed. I first took advantage of online training a few years ago when I quit my job. (I was going to teach abroad, but that didn’t work out so well). I decided I would use the experience to take a new direction in my career—work at a publishing company in downtown San Diego. The job sounded glamorous and the description fit my background perfectly, except for one small detail—I didn’t know QuarkXPress, one of the “required skills.” I knew I would have a much better shot at getting the job if I knew Quark, and I knew it couldn’t be that hard to learn.

How bad didly I want the job? Enough to spend $75 I didn’t have for the Lynda.com training CD to learn it!

Being able to put Quark under the “computer skills” section of my resume before sending it off and say with confidence in the interview that I knew the program was well worth the money and time investment. More importantly, I got the job. Little did they know I had learned Quark just days before!

When you’re unemployed, use the time to expand your technical skills, whether it be learning Spanish or mastering Photoshop. These skills will often put you a leg up from the next guy (or girl) that has similar qualifications, but isn’t bilingual, part-designer, etc.

Online training is equally great for people who are employed. More often than not, your employer will be impressed with your desire to learn and happy to foot some or all of the bill for this type of training. Just make sure to explain how the skill will make you more effective at your job. 

Here are some sites to peruse if you are ready to e-learn:

  • Lynda.com: This popular site sells training videos for almost every computer skill you can think of, from creating 3-D graphics to using Twitter for marketing. Each program is rated “beginner,” “intermediate,” or “advanced,” so it’s easy to figure out which to buy. The best way to go is to get a $25 monthly subscription to Lynda, and you’ll have access to over 42,000 videos! Plus, there are corporate discounts if you can convince your boss that a group of employees could use the training.
  • Rosetta Stone: You probably know someone who used one of their products to learn a language before studying abroad. I completed most of the Spanish modules before going to Peru and learned the language extremely fast. These programs are very pricey—sometimes over $500—but very worth it if you don’t want to get lost in a foreign city. They just take lots of self-discipline. If you work for a big corporation that sends employees to faraway places for conferences, meetings with clients, etc., they just may help pay for it.
  • VTC: This site is just like Lynda.com, but has twice as many videos with 22,730 of them being free. I’ve never used it, but it seems to be pretty legit after reading several online reviews (minus a few complaints that some of the videos are a little outdated). It’s a little more than Lynda ($30/month), but they may have an obscure video you are looking for that Lynda doesn’t (and if you’re lucky, it’ll be a free one).
  • Total Training: Although this site only offers 171 videos, that may be all you need. Their monthly subscription is $16.67 and the teachers in these videos are experts, according to their partners, Adobe and Microsoft, and have frequently published books on the subject as well.

If you are unemployed and your unemployment paycheck doesn’t leave you with a training budget, look into local community colleges and adult education centers for cheap (and sometimes free) classes.

Oh, and that magazine job I had… they switched to using Adobe InDesign a month after I started working. Go figure!

What ways do you get your continuing ed. fix?

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About the Author: Michelle Barbeau

Michelle Barbeau graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2006 with a B.A. in English and minor in Professional Writing. She is currently in graduate school working toward a Masters in Rhetoric and Writing. Michelle has worked as an editor and writer for four years and teaches Freshman Composition at a local university. She also considers herself an authority in resume writing and acing the GRE, and provides free resume critiques to potential clients. To learn more about Michelle's resume critiques and read more of her insightful career expertise, check out her career advice blog.

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