Never Stop Learning

Taking Online Classes As A Professional
Summary: I didn’t expect it to be this way, but when I started my career was when I really became a top-notch student. In college, classes didn’t provide the perspective or real-life consequences that my job now does.

Taking Online Classes As A Professional

I used to struggle to feign passion in class because everything we did was a simulation. Today, in my job, I welcome the pressure and opportunity to learn, and I am pushed to learn as much as possible and apply that to my career directly. It’s a waste-no-time approach, and I revel in the chance to have an actual impact on the world. As I started my career and my path began to reveal itself before me, where I lacked in knowledge became glaringly apparent; luckily, there is an endless source of acquiring knowledge if you just know where to look. Observing my mentors and talking to my peers became the best way to see what I needed to learn. What skills do they have and use daily that I don’t feel confident in? It can be anything from Excel to Adobe to Codecademy—an online class taught me in just a few weeks to be proficient, and then efficient, and then excellent.

We all learn in different ways, we all are driven down different paths in life, but one thing that is available for all is the opportunity to better ourselves, anytime. We are never stuck because we always have the choice to continue learning, to continue pushing our own boundaries. There are free classes and endless amounts of information available online. I can’t tell you what class you should take, but I can provide some tips to help you succeed in whatever you choose to do.

Do A Little Bit Every Day

I think one of the biggest challenges for professionals is finding the time to get through your courses. I personally took classes during my PTO, during lunch, and after work. I listened to lessons as often as I could during my commute, but I didn’t put too much pressure on myself to cram it all in. As long as I took a baby step toward learning every day (and that could mean 15 minutes), then I was moving in the right direction.

Use Note-Taking And Productivity Tools

Learn first how to teach yourself efficiently, and the possibilities are endless. There are tools made by people who dedicate their lives to finding out how to help you learn the best way possible, many of them are accessible and affordable if you know where to look.

Beastnotes is a note-taking app that helps me move through online classes easier and learn more effectively. While there are plenty of different platforms to take online classes, I found that this chrome extension could be used across all platforms (Udemy, Coursera, YouTube) and websites, and is designed to be easy to use while watching videos too. Taking notes is the only way I can get through my online courses, especially if they are video-based. I like having the notes always available for me, especially when I need to apply what I’ve learned. Video mode is also useful for hiding your notes from prying eyes (hot tip!).

Another simple productivity hack I use is the timer on my phone. I know that some days there is so much going on, how can you dedicate time to learning? Time yourself—15 minutes—and just plow through what you can, the serotonin boost will be worth it.

Talk To Your Employer About Sponsoring Classes

Getting certifications and taking online courses to improve your skills not only benefits your career but it directly benefits your employers as well. It might seem like a solo project, but bring it up to your boss and they’ll be happy to hear you are dedicated, and often employers will help pay for classes and certifications! They might also be encouraging enough to give you some time day-by-day to dedicate to your learning.

I’ve seen colleagues not only build on what they know, but also completely change careers by starting with teaching themselves, taking online courses, and exploring their interests well after starting their professional careers. Every time they go for it, I feel excited for them and am cheering them on on the sidelines.

Each of us deserves the opportunity to go after what we want. When we can learn to learn effectively, we can do anything.