So, I think it’s fair to say that a lot of us have become time rich in the past five to six weeks. Whilst we have to physically stay restricted to our homes because of COVID-19 (and for good reason), that doesn’t mean that our minds shouldn’t be exploring new realms.
Online learning has been booming for the past few weeks, from Instagram Live cooking classes, to video yoga and fitness classes, we’ve officially brought everything to life through the power of the internet. So why not take advantage of the time and the fact that many of these platforms are now offering their services for free (or significantly less)?
To help, here’s a list of the best platforms I’ve found for online learning. Just so you know, this isn’t limited to business courses and self-development. These platforms include everything from cooking to music and dance. So the question is, what do you want to learn today?
Ever wondered how Simone Biles trains? Or how Gordon Ramsey makes his lunch? Well, now is your opportunity to find out with Master Class. They’re an online learning platform that literally has the best teachers in the world offering up to 20 lessons on whatever it is that they do best. The choice of teachers is incredible and, even better, they currently have a 2 for 1 offer at the moment. Buy a pass for yourself and get access to all of these classes for a year, and you’ll have a second pass to give someone else as a gift.
Price: £179/$180 annually (currently buy one pass, get one free)
With a catologue of well over 400 free short courses to learn from, Future Learn is a great place if you’re looking for 2-3 hours of work per subject. These courses are powered by Universities and specialist organisations who have a host of people who genuinely know their stuff. You can even start degrees through Future Learn as they have some of the best universities in the UK, like Kings College, featuring their courses there. Whilst you can join for free, there are typically additional modules or content within a course that comes at a price (usually starting at around £30-40). Not bad, considering the variety and quality of their content.
Price: Free, some additional content for £30+/$30+
In regards to the working world, a key lesson that we can take-away from this pandemic, is that digital skills are paramount. So, regardless of the industry that you’re in or your job title, having some fundamental digital knowledge in your arsenal is likely to be beneficial to your future. Luckily, Google offer free online courses through their digital garage, which can definitely help. You have the option of taking a course from beginning to end or just picking up on the modules that make sense for you to cover. Either way, as a leader in the digital space, these courses by Google are worth taking a look at.
A lot of you are probably wondering why Udemy isn’t right at the top of the list… mainly to give you a bit of variety because they’re already well-known in the realm of online courses. They have instructors from around the world creating courses on everything from digital marketing to python and financial analysis. So, there is more than enough to keep you preoccupied here. Each course comes at a price and this varies depending on the experience of the instructor. However, a lot of courses have drastically dropped in price since COVID-19 lock-downs have been keeping people at home across the globe. Courses that were once, £100 are now £20. So you could literally take 5x courses for the price of one if you wanted to.
Price: Varies from £10 – £100+/$20-$150+ (plus some incredible free opportunities!)
Here’s one for all of the foodies out there. Delia Smith has a range of online cooking courses for you to choose from. Want to make the best roast chicken? Done. Always wanted to learn how to make a quiche? She’s got you. And, the best part is you can learn all of this from the comfort of your kitchen for free. I’d say that’s winning.
Skill Share is an amazing online learning platform for creatives. The beauty of it is, they offer you more than just courses. You also have access to their community of creatives so you can figure the tough stuff out alongside some incredibly creative minds. Animation, illustration, design, photography, you name it, they have it. They’re also offering new customers 2x months free premium membership access, which is typically $9 a month or $99 for the year.
Price: Currently 2 months free premium membership (typically $99/year)
HubSpot’s Academy is a great space for marketers of all levels to learn more about their field. All of their courses are thorough and range from 1 hour to 5. Better yet, you can also get their certifications (which will look pretty good on your LinkedIn profile).
By partnering with so many leading organisations and companies, Coursera has quite an impressive list of courses for you to choose from. Fortunately, they also have a combination of free and paid for courses too. It’s a platform that’s been designed for you to learn in your own time and at your own pace, so there’s no pressure to finish a course at speed if you need to take your time and absorb the information.
Price: Free (for some courses, but certificates cost an average of £39/$49) and also a Coursera Plus option for an annual fee of £387/$399
I left my job a few months ago. I had been sitting on this decision for a while. I liked my work. I was invested in our mission. I enjoyed interfacing with many of my coworkers. What I didn’t love was a continued expectation for excessive overtime, that work was to take precedence over personal and family commitments, that almost complete projects were upended (more than once), and the repetition of “we’re family” was part of the workplace culture. (It’s not healthy, I promise, and having leadership that uses that language puts workers – you and I included – at a disadvantage with our time and financial value because “family” workplaces expect employees to give more (or all) for less.)
I’ve burnt out before.
Burnout is no joke. Dragging out of bed and through the day bleary-eyed. Difficulty concentrating. Taking hours longer to complete a task because I. Just. Can’t. Move. Any. Faster. Having to bribe myself to go to work. All the signs were starting to show. What was most frustrating for me was that I had tried to address my concerns about unmanageable workload early on (starting more than a year before giving my notice). During one exchange when I asked how my boss would like me to prioritize certain types of tasks, I was (unhelpfully) told, “It all just needs to get done.”
All of these individual things aside, I knew months before I finally left that the time was approaching. It took me a while to get all the pieces in place. Was I in a financial place where I could leave? How long could I manage to be unemployed without incredible strain? Was it the right time? Would things get better? Should I give it another chance? How much longer could I go before burnout really got me? I’m sure there’s a point in my life where I would have up and walked off a job. (Actually, I have up and walked off a job.) But this was not that place or time.
I have value outside my job.
We’ve been conditioned (very much so in the United States and also in other parts of the world) that our job – the type of job we hold and rank within it – determines our value as a person. I’ve been to countless networking events and social parties where the first question I get asked is, “What do you do?” I’ve tried to flip this on its head by replying with my hobbies, but the follow-up question is always, “No, what do you do for work?” I realized probably close to a decade ago that this question is very much a matter of people determining each other’s status and worth in society and have made a concerted effort to flip the script on this question by opening my ask with something else. Really, anything. “Do you have any pets?” “What’s your favorite dessert?” “What are your hobbies?” The possibilities are endless.
Know Your Priorities.
In reality, our work is only a part of us and what we do. For me, work ranks third in what I view as important in my life.
1. Family: Myself, my immediate family, my chosen family, those for whom I would literally drop everything no matter what.
2. Community: The people and places with whom/where I collaborate and in which I invest my time, talent, and treasure in order to leave the world a better place than I found it.
3. Career: A job (hopefully one I like a lot) that allows me opportunities to share my abilities and positively impact our mission as a whole. The vehicle that keeps a roof over my head and food on the table and allows me to fully invest in #1 and #2.
It’s taken time to find my own value (yay, life experiences!), but as my own understanding of my value as a person has matured, my patience for people who don’t respect the autonomy of others (be it in learning or communication style, preferred hobbies, style of dress or physical expression, etc.) has gone down. I am a baker. A pianist. An activist. A bookworm. A yogi. A gardener. A cat mom. And so much more.
Even with all the uncertainty that comes with not having another job lined up, I knew it was time when the time came. I was on the precipice of burnout. I wasn’t feeling valued. When I did set my end date, I gave a statistically long amount of notice. I was honest in my reasons to leave in the hopes that systemic change could happen for others. I hope I set my team up for success. I wish no ill on my colleagues and hope that their work towards the mission continues successfully.
Quitting can be scary and that’s no lie. There’s the aspect of not knowing how others will react when you give your notice, what they will say about you (to your face or behind your back), or if you’ll simply become a pariah for the last few weeks you’re there. And it was scary. But it was also an incredible, empowering step in staying true to myself and doing what I needed to do – for me.
The closer I got to my last day, the prouder I was of myself for making this choice. The closer I got to the uncertainty of what was next, the stronger I felt in my decision.
I’ve carefully selected a handful of fields I feel I will really enjoy. I’ve curated a list of important interview questions to make sure I’m valued from the beginning (including questions about work/life synergy, workplace culture, the cohesiveness of mission/vision/values, and more). I have some incredible friends helping me on this journey and while I really don’t know what’s next, I know I can do it.