Six Free Ways to Boost Your Job Skills During Summer Downtime

Ahh, summer! It’s the time of year for long, lazy days at the beach, picnicking poolside, baseball, biking and barbeques. Even our work environments can feel different in the summertime. With people in and out for vacations, long weekends and loosening of dress codes, many workplaces are more relaxed. If that’s the case in your office, take advantage of the slower pace to step up your job skills. Today, there are heaps of free learning opportunities literally at your fingertips. Here are some of the best tools out there:

1. MIT OpenCourseWare

If you thought an MIT education was out of reach, think again. Now, you can access the same quality course material as MIT graduates like Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Former Secretary-General of the United Nations and winner of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize, Koffi Annan, National Medal of Technology winner Steve Altes and blackjack wunderkind, Mike Aponte. Whether your career could benefit from advanced knowledge in architecture, aeronautics and astronautics, biological, chemical, civil, electrical, mechanical or nuclear engineering, health sciences and technology, mathematics, chemistry or physics, MIT OCW has your back. 

2. Khan Academy

When Salman Khan, a former hedge fund manager, was asked to tutor his young cousins in math, he never dreamt it would turn into the revolutionary Khan Academy. A nonprofit founded in 2008 with the  mission of providing a “free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere,” the Khan Academy boasts 41,815,171 learners who use the website’s instructional videos, exercises, dashboard analytics and teacher tools to learn about a wide range of STEM topics, economics and finance and the arts and humanities. The academy also provides free test prep services to students taking the SAT, GMAT, MCAT IITJee, NCLEX-RN and others. The academy’s resources have benefited from Khan’s partnerships with organizations like NASA, the Museum of Modern Art, MIT and California Institute of Science. Funders, which enable the academy to remain totally free, include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Google. 

3. Codecademy

Responding to the twenty-first century’s unprecedented need for digital proficiency, Codecademy purports it is “building the education the world needs — the first truly net native education.” With over 25 million students from all over the world, Codecademy teaches users the coding languages they need to program and build websites and get ahead in their careers. The online educational resource offers 100 courses on seven tracks — JavaScript, HTML & CSS, jQuery, PHP, Python, Ruby and APIs. 

4. Coursera

Machine learning at University of Washington? Data science at Johns Hopkins? How about business fundamentals at Penn? Coursera, an education platform, works in partnership with more than 140 universities and educational organizations from all over the globe to provide over 1,200 online courses in virtually any subject you can imagine. Although you’ll pay for an actual certificate, you can audit as many courses as you like for free.

5. University of London Podcasts

Care to study abroad but can’t leave the country right now? Podcasts from the University of London and other nearby institutions including the London School of Economics and Politics and The Royal Veterinary College could be the next best thing. The colleges affiliated with this program offer podcasts that are available for free download. Watch them wherever you are, whenever you want to.

6. Alison (Advance Learning Interactive Systems Online)

Founded in Ireland in 2007, Alison now has 7 million learners, in 250 countries. Alison is different than some other online education platforms because its offerings are specifically geared toward building career skills. Popular courses include those on “financial and economic literacy, business and enterprise skills, digital literacy and IT skills, health literacy, personal development and soft skills and health, safety and compliance.” 

“We are focused on workplace skills,” Alison founder, Mike Feerick told the Business Standard in a June 2016 interview. “We are trying to teach people how to touch type, speak English, how to use Excel, how to do project management,” In 2016, the company introduced courses in coding, web development, strategic management and sales management. Courses are offered at both certificate and diploma levels so you can go as far as you like. 
What’s your favorite summer learning strategy? Share it with us on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. Job-hunting? Check out our job board. Enjoy the start of summer!