Staying committed to continuous learning teaches you new skills bolsters, your resume and protects your job—learn free ways to learn online with Infomedia.
Working in the tech industry can be intimidating — it seems like everything’s changing overnight. Just when you think you’ve got Mobile Apps nailed down, Responsive Design changes the game. You start relying on Google Analytics to game your SEO, and then Google puts their search terms on lockdown. In the tech industry, getting the rug being yanked out from under you sometimes feels like it’s part of the job.
The solution? When that rug starts moving, learn to keep standing. In my experience, the best way to get comfortable in a changing industry (and let’s be honest — these days, almost every industry is a changing industry) is to be able to roll with the changes, and embracing continued learning is a great way to do that. Why should you learn new things if nobody’s forcing you to do it? Because staying committed to learning new skills bolsters your resume and protects your job; it might even lead to a better job. It also connects you to more communities, helps you develop new skills that prevent you from being bored at work, and can end up being pretty fun. So it’s win-win-win-win, basically.
I asked around at Infomedia, and here’s a roundup of our favorite ways to continue learning about web design, coding, tech, Internet marketing and social media:
Treehouse (and More): Online Courses at Your Own Pace
There are lots of sites out there that help you learn coding and related skills: Lynda, Skillshare, Udemy, Coursera Review and to name a few. Here’s a good roundup of online learning courses if you’re trying to decide. At Infomedia, we’re partial to Treehouse — their sessions are fairly short, so you can learn a lot in a little time, and it’s really fun to use. Here’s more about why we use Treehouse to learn more about building websites.
Lunch & Learn: Let Someone Buy You Lunch While You Learn
Lunch & Learns are fantastic opportunities to learn new skills because they fit into your schedule (you go on your lunch break), and you usually get free food (they have to feed you because they’re taking up your lunch break). Infomedia’s even hosting a Lunch & Learn today at Innovation Depot (miraculously, there are still tickets, and you can snag one here). Brown Bag meetings have the same learning opportunities, but none of the free food. Still, it might be worth it, depending on the topic and organization putting it on.
Meetup: Get Questions Answered Face-to-Face
Google and YouTube: Learn for Free
Don’t have the money to put into more training? Want to test out learning without committing to pay for it? No problem. When I asked my coworkers here at Infomedia how they learn more about tech subjects, the number one response was, “I Google it.” Googling the answer to a simple question is second-nature to most of us at this point, but it’s easy to forget that we can also find thoughtful answers to complicated tech and career questions using a search engine. And if you’re looking for a how-to? Chances are good that there’s a YouTuber out there who’s ready to show you.
Reddit or a Chatroom: Ask for Advice
Find a Reddit thread about your question, or ask in a chatroom — many times, a magical Internet fairy will appear to answer your question and save you from your distress. (Okay, it might not be a magic fairy, but somebody will probably answer your question.) It’s important to vet the answers (and any answer you find online) for validity, but many answers will at least be a good jumping off point for a new way to look at your problem.
Conferences: Meet Experts and Peers
Attending a conference probably ensures that you’ll get some free swag, like a mousepad or some new pens or something equally valuable. But you can also get quality information through conferences, learning even from sessions you didn’t attend by checking out the event’s hashtag and downloading slides from talks you missed. In my experience, the most valuable parts of conferences can be getting the opportunity to talk to people in my same field — I find that I sometimes actually learn more from the 5-minute chat with the person sitting next to me before a talk or at lunch than I do from the actual scheduled learning.
Software Tutorials: You May Already Own the Tool You Need
Our designers find that some of the best tutorials on how to use Adobe products come from … Adobe. That sounds like obvious advice, but when we’re trying to learn how to better use software or Google Calendar or even Facebook, we often forget to check out the free learning resources that come with the tools we love to use. The included tutorials aren’t always the best way to learn, but they’re a good way to start, and a great way to learn about extra tips, tricks and shortcuts that the average user might miss.
How Do You Decide Which Learning Method Is Best?
Check to see if your company has a continued learning program set up, or if they’re willing to invest in your training. It’s also worth checking out the free tutorials that come with software you’ve already paid for. But if you’re reaching into unknown territory, just use the Internet to research the pros and cons of different learning tools — almost everything that’s been tried and tested also has extensive reviews online, and you can learn a lot about which software has the strengths you’re looking for or the weaknesses you should watch out for.
Want to try out free learning for yourself? Our monthly Lunch & Learns are a great way to start. Claim your free ticket for today’s topic here, and if you can’t make it today, here’s our Lunch & Learn schedule for 2016.