I’ll admit it, there was a time when I wanted to be a famous actress. I wanted to devour a screenplay and give my own personal flair to the leading character.
I also wanted to be an innkeeper.
And a baker.
And a wedding planner.
Oh, and of course, a famous author.
While I haven’t quite been able to add all of those things to my resume, I have managed to stay gainfully employed over the last 20 years despite moving every few years. Up until recently, I did it without a college degree.
Don’t get me wrong, if you have a chance to get a degree, I highly recommend it, but going back to school isn’t the only way to learn new professional skills and boost a resume.
Here are a few of the ways I built up my skill set.
5 Ways to Gain Professional Skills Without Going Back to College
Free College Classes
This sounds off, right? How does taking free college classes mean not going to college? When those classes are part of an adult learning program, of course.
You can tap into the wealth of knowledge college professors and instructors have to offer by looking into local adult learning classes. Many times the classes are taught in the evenings or on weekends in local high schools or community centers.
Want to learn a new computer skill?
How to select the proper wine for a steak dinner?
Take a quality photograph?
You can learn all of these things and tons more by signing up for one of these courses. Plus, it’s a great way to meet and network with others who have similar interests.
Can I just tell you how many great nonprofit organizations out there would jump for joy to have someone who is willing to learn and is giving of their time? Volunteering is a great way to jump into an organization and learn about how they do things.
I learned a great deal about people management and branding while working for a nonprofit. Find a cause that speaks to your heart and then look for a way to get involved.
Volunteermatch.org is a fantastic resource and offers both local and online volunteer opportunities.
If ever there was a paradise for learning software and creative skills, Lynda.com might be it. Want to learn how to use Photoshop? How to create an effective social media campaign? How to create a WordPress site? Lynda.com offers all of these and more.
I love that you can learn on your own time and at your own pace. A subscription is required, but it’s well worth the access to hundreds and hundreds of training videos.
There is nothing better than on-the-job training. I worked for several temporary agencies when I was a young military spouse.
Each job did 3 things:
1. Provided a paycheck
2. Gave me real-life experience to add to my resume
3. Taught me something new
The first two are a given if you show up on time. Learn something new required me to pay attention to my surroundings and to ask questions.
If someone needed an extra set of hands or eyes, I was quick to jump in. Exposure to new software and industry practices is another benefit.
Plus, many temporary agencies have training programs. I worked for Robert Half International for a long time and they have a great training network available to their temporary employees. Not only can you take training courses, but then you can test to demonstrate you’ve mastered a new skill.
Sometimes a good internship can be hard to come by, but with a little work, you can find them. Some are reserved for college students, but there are still plenty more open to everyone.
Some internships pay, many do not.
Like volunteering, internships are a great way to see how successful businesses operate. But unlike volunteering, internships are designed to help you learn.
Even as I’m writing this post, I’m eyeballing an unpaid remote internship opportunity with a literary magazine. It won’t bring in a paycheck, but it will give me a chance to hone a skill I already have and provide another great bullet for my resume.