Top 5 Online Courses for Building Job Skills
At Human Jobs, we are obsessed with building skills. Not only is continual learning a key driver for career success, it can also be a source of enormous intellectual satisfaction. There are so many quality resources available online, but today we start with our top 5 online courses for building job skills. They cover a variety of subjects, but all are well-taught and will deliver tangible skills you can use in the real world.
1. How to Speak from MIT
This is a legendary course from MIT focused on public speaking skills for job interviews, lectures, and much more. The professor, Patrick Winston is a charismatic speaker himself – I mean, he ought to be if he is teaching the course. Although geared toward an MIT audience, it is packed with useful tips for people of any educational background.
This “course” is technically just one video, so if you don’t have much free time, an hour with Patrick Winston is an hour well-spent. In his own words: “By the end of the next 60 minutes you will have been exposed to a lot of ideas, some of which you will incorporate into your own repertoire, and they will ensure that you get the maximum opportunity to have your ideas valued and accepted by the people you speak with.” The lectures is freely available on MIT Open Courseware.
Don’t go into another job interview without watching How to Speak first. Check it out here.
2. Startup School from Y Combinator
If you are thinking of starting a business, Startup School from Y Combinator (YC) will give you the skills and frameworks for evaluating and growing your idea. YC is the top startup accelerator in the US, which means they know what it takes for a clever idea to become a successful business.
Startup School is a great introduction to entrepreneurship, and business more generally, because it forces you to think critically about why some startups succeed and others fail. For people with little background in this area, the lectures are very accessible, use little jargon, and are a great entry-point into the space. The lecturers are really candid, and I found it very refreshing for some frank and pointed views on the startup world.
Startup School is free, so check it out here.
3. Justice from Harvard
Michael Sandel is the professor who turns probing moral inquiry into a thrill-ride. Justice offers a whistle-stop tour of different ethical and moral philosophies ranging from the ancients to contemporary philosophers. The course is honestly addictive and always spurred vigorous debate between me ad my friends while watching.
Sandel is a champion of the Socratic method, and his questioning models the kind of critical thought that is so celebrated by humanities students. If sharpening your reasoning skills isn’t enough, then take Justice to challenge your own moral and ethical convictions. Whether you are targeting writing jobs, tutoring jobs, or a career in finance, you will become more analytically and ethically robust after a few lectures of Justice.
Lectures are free from the course website and on YouTube. Check out the course website here.
4. Excel Essential Training from LinkedIn
You cannot deny the importance of Excel within the modern economy. Microsoft’s interactive spreadsheet software is everywhere and facility with the program is a huge selling point in job applications. This course from LinkedIn is a thorough introduction to the subjects and it provides a nice interactive format for practicing new techniques. No prior knowledge is necessary, and even people with intermediate Excel skills will benefit.
When I took the course, my Excel skills were reasonably advanced, but I benefitted tremendously from a more detailed understanding of the program. The small tips and best practices I learned have saved me a lot of time and many headaches since finishing the course. Knowledge of Excel will serve you in many different professions, so it is worth committing the hours to become a power user.
Available on LinkedIn Learning here.
5. CS50: Introduction to Computer Science from Harvard/edX
If you want to learn to code, CS50 is the place to start. This course from Harvard comes with everything: a dynamic professor, extensive resources, logistical help, problem sets with automatic grading, supplementary lectures from teaching fellows, a user-friendly coding environment, and more.
There is a reason CS50 has a cult following among Harvard undergraduates, many of whom take CS50 as their first computer science course. I took CS50 online and found it absolutely exhilarating. It was challenging, but the course structure and resources made it easy to start. At the outset of a programming course, the number of new tools and concepts is often overwhelming for beginners. In my experience, CS50 does the best job at easing you into the field and building some momentum right from the start.
Knowing how to code is an invaluable skill for anyone on the job market, so it should be high on your list of skills to acquire. If you need to be convinced, we have an entire blogpost dedicated to coding for humanities people. Taking CS50 is a commitment, but you will not regret it. Free and paid versions are available from edX, so check it out here.
6. Bonus Fun/Learning Resource: Wendover Productions on YouTube
This isn’t a course, but rather a YouTube channel that offers super high-quality “mini-documentaries” on really interesting topics. Wendover’s videos are pithy and jam-packed with interesting insights. Ever wonder how overnight shipping works? Check out this video. Curious about how humans conceptualize risk? Wendover has got you covered here.
I watch Wendover to understand how the world works, and I always come away with a new insight into the unseen forces that shape our lives. Highly recommended for some fun and educational time on YouTube. Here is the channel link.
Never stop learning – build job skills every day
Learning new things and building skills is a major motivator in my life. I do it for fun, and I do it for the career opportunities that an expanded skillset affords. Tell me in the comments: what skills do you want to build? Do you have any amazing online resources that others should check out?
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