One of the often-missed perks of working in a brick-and-mortar company is professional development. (That’s aside from impromptu foosball games and occasional catered lunches, of course.)
In today’s competitive job market, staying on top of rapid changes in your field truly matters, as does keeping your skills up to date. It could greatly impact your ability to retain your job as well as your future career advancement.
Traditionally, professional development has involved either formal or informal mentoring, or more structured onsite training programs that offer certifications or other credentials. Yet remote workers have a number of free and fee-based opportunities at their fingertips.
How do you find the most relevant program, course, or membership for you?
Depending on what resources you have available—time, attention, or money—here are three tips on investing wisely in your own professional development:
1. Gaining new skills.
As the technology that many of us use to do our jobs constantly evolves, we, too, must acquire new skills and experiences in order to keep up. Tech-focused upskilling courses from companies like Skillcrush and General Assembly can help you move toward a new role in web development, data science, design, or digital marketing, with certificates and digital badges that demonstrate completion or concept mastery.
Securing hands-on experience is also possible through online tutorials, which companies often offer on their own products or platforms. For example, the free tutorials in Canva’s Design School will take a novice through concrete steps and strategies to build a variety of imagery to serve individuals’ and business’ needs.
2. Staying ahead of trends.
Travel and admission fees for onsite events can quickly add up. If attending the premier industry event in your field is prohibitively costly, find out if there is a virtual option. Often, online conferences’ content will mirror that of the in-person version.
Being able to access asynchronous sessions means that you can consume information at your pace; if participation in synchronous sessions is an option, you might be able to engage with other attendees and even pose questions to speakers—building a stronger virtual network in the process.
Check out annual conferences or consider investing in an association membership that’s relevant to your field for regular learning opportunities throughout the year.
3. Engaging in lifelong learning.
Professional development doesn’t have to be a special event or represent a significant time commitment; it can be something you easily incorporate into your workweek. With a variety of free MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) from leading universities, you can test out topics of interest without enrolling in a degree or certificate program.
If there’s a particular thought leader or keynote speaker you’d like to learn from, search for their presentations on Slideshare or YouTube. There are a number of multimedia options as well: regular podcasts like those from the folks at Andreeson Horowitz or video series such as MOZ’s Whiteboard Friday bring expert insights and best practices from the industry to your home office.