As a university student nearing graduation, I'm always looking for new ways to add to my skill set and make myself a better candidate for potential employers.
Whether it's learning something because I'm passionate about the topic, such as graphic design, or adding a skill that could prove useful later on, like coding, I've found that learning on my own can be expensive.
Since I don't study in those technical fields, I've had to find other ways to learn these new skills, and I've had to do it at a low cost.
Here's How I Learned New Skills on a Budget:
- I used free online content. This was a great way to learn the basics of what I was interested in. I found a number of free online workshops hosted by accredited companies in those fields. This let me get a taste of the coursework required before committing. Many sites also had student accounts, or your university may even provide an account for you already. For example, I used Lynda.com through my university portal, as they now provide free access to all courses for students attending Ontario public colleges and universities. I also used Skillshare, as they provide discounts for students with a valid student email. Aside from websites, I also subscribed to a number of podcasts and email newsletters in fields I was interested in, such as newsletters about user experience (UX) design trends, or worksheets for human-centered design.
- I asked friends. One way I learned new technical skills, or got over roadblocks when learning technical skills, was asking a friend. I had a number of classmates in computer science that taught me the basics of coding, or looked through my code when I had a problem. In return, I offered to teach them about something I knew, like photography. If I didn't have friends in certain fields, I met experts through school clubs and events.
- I read books. Since I was interested in creative, technology, and business fields, I looked at best-selling books on those topics. I picked up recommended books from popular blogs and industry influencers. Reading books gave insight into the industry, and I found books that even prepare you for technology-specific job interviews, and what to expect in certain roles.
- I just went for it! For many technical skills, the best way I learned was through trial and error. There are so many free resources online, you just have to take the time to commit! For example, I taught myself graphic design, and I still learn new applications every day by just trying different tools within the applications.
Learning is a Rewarding Experience
I feel like it's important to continue adding to my skill set. I didn't let the prices of online courses deter me, because there are so many alternative ways to learn. Once I find a subject or skill set that I truly want to learn more about, I'll think about enrolling in a paid workshop. I just have to make sure I'm committed, and the above tips are a great way to figure out what direction I want to go in.