You can still learn even if you work full-time
By Lisa Haugh, VP of People and General Counsel at Udemy
If your upcoming New Year’s Resolutions for 2016 include picking up additional skills so you can get a new or better job, there’s reason to feel motivated.
For most working adults, it’s unrealistic to consider going back to school full-time or relocating to be near a physical campus. It’s inconvenient, expensive, and often more than what you need in order to reach your career goals. In response to that reality, alternative education options are increasingly being recognized as legitimate and even necessary supplements to a traditional four-year degree. For example, in October 2015 the U.S. Department of Education launched a pilot program to fund access to some of these new training models.
As you sets your sights on that next career move, you need to confirm you have the skills employers are looking for. Here are a few ways you can strengthen your skill set and even customize your own learning curriculum.
Coding schools and bootcamps have garnered lots of attention lately as a means for those without a background in software engineering to make a splash in Silicon Valley’s startup scene. Bootcamps like Dev Bootcamp or App Academy are typically intensive, short-term programs where students develop basic knowledge around a discrete skill, like a software language. They’re great for people with directed career interests — and offer some networking opportunities — though actual job placement varies widely.
Apprenticeships, on the other hand, are a great way to secure a job once you have a foot in the door. Companies use these programs to groom successful employees. In fact, it’s common for apprentice candidates to have prior experience at the company they’re seeking to work for or at least relevant industry experience. Though they offer abundant hands-on experience, apprenticeships can sometimes be hard to access and tend not to provide enough income to live off.
If apprenticeships are harder to access, massive online open courses (MOOCs) are on the other end of the spectrum. MOOCs are typically free and affiliated with a particular university or college. Like traditional schools, MOOCs offer a wide variety of classes to choose from. That said, there’s not a lot of accountability. You’re responsible for staying on track with your coursework and assignments. This typically means MOOCs have low completion rates — it’s difficult to tell whether a students has actually learned something new. Since MOOCs are essentially college courses moved online, there are fewer opportunities for skill-based learning.
Skill-based online learning portals like Lynda offer courses through a subscription model. You’re able to learn at your own pace, which can be especially useful to working professionals. Skill-based portals are typically skewed toward tech and business courses, making it difficult to find the right course if you want to sample a little of this and a little of that. They can also be expensive; you have to be sure what you’re learning is worth the monthly fee.
Udemy was conceived from its launch to be an online marketplace where anyone, anywhere can take a course or teach a course. It offers the accessibility of other portals, but with more flexibility and greater course selection. Course quality varies by instructor, but an online marketplace may be the best option for those looking to set their own pace when preparing for a new job or opportunity and do so at the lowest cost.
The choice is yours
These aren’t the only routes to success outside traditional higher education.Harvard’s Innovation Launch Lab is launching the careers of plenty of alumni with new ideas for our modern economy. Students can also benefit from instructional and educational videos on YouTube — free knowledge for anyone with Internet access. Internships, although not always accessible to everyone, are another great way to learn new skills in a professional environment.
So, as you think about the skills and competencies you’ll need to land that dream job, be sure to avail yourself of the diverse learning options designed to meet the needs of diverse students.
This article originally appeared on LinkedIn Pulse.