Sophia, the world’s first robot citizen; suspiciously self-aware ChatGPT; and equal parts thrilling and disturbing deepfake. These make up our world today.
Yes, it is no longer about waiting for the digital future. That future is here now and you are living in it.
Here’s another fact: As the world as we know it continues to change, so does the world of work. Continuous learning is more critical than ever before, and learning at least one digital skill could be the key to survive and thrive in the new world of work. Whether you are in the corporate world, finding your niche in a smaller company or trying out an agency life, whatever role you currently have or plan to take on and regardless of industry, digital skills can help you stand out. Acquiring new skills also tells companies that you’re willing to learn and have the initiative to make good use of your time without having to be told to do so.
But when is the best time to learn a digital skill? The answer is probably years ago. It’s a good thing the wonderfully flexible work setup many companies now implement and your love-hate relationship with the internet and your gadgets make now just as good a time as any. Even if you do not have immediate plans to move up the corporate ladder or switch jobs or careers, the possibilities and opportunities that come with acquiring a skill or two still outweigh the challenges. And why not if the course is online and has a flexible schedule, right?
You wake up to a barrage of marketing emails, news and even social media posts, all seemingly urgent and too irresistible not to open. Before you know it, you’ve read or scanned so much content and it’s only been a few hours since you woke up.
If you are a producer of written content yourself, you know the value of the written word. But in today’s world where everyone can create content, how do you stand out? What type of content do readers like and interact with the most? When is it best to publish a post? What topic tugs at the heart of your ever-changing market?
Seasoned writers and content strategists probably know the answer to all these, but some will argue that practices and strategies then may not be applicable today. There is no one-size, fits-all approach, no formulaic route to content these days, especially with netizens having different ways of engaging with content.
It wouldn’t hurt to take a refresher course or even a specialized course to be updated on digital writing. Hubspot’s free certification courses on digital marketing, SEO, and content strategy and marketing are good places to start. Browse Hubspot’s wide range of courses, guides, ebooks and even templates to know what works for your learning needs and style and schedule. Coursera is also offering specialized writing courses for academic English writing, writing in the sciences, effective communication and business writing.
For a more personalized approach, you may check out classes or workshops hosted by seasoned writers. You’re going to have to follow them and be on the lookout for announcements for their next projects though. A recent workshop by journalist Pola del Monte, @misschiefeditor on Instagram, for instance, titled Writing with a Human Touch: Marketing and PR Writing that Stands Out in a World of ChatGPT-Generated Content is a timely topic.
That billboard you see on your daily commute, the merchandize packaging in the supermarket and the e-commerce ads you see a lot of online — those are all wielded by the magic wand (or pen tab) of a graphic designer. If you want to brush up on your graphic design skills or is looking to enter the industry, taking courses online is a good starting point.
Try The Complete Graphic Design Theory for Beginners by Udemy. This covers design theory and the basic principles of color theory, typography, branding, logo design and layout. If you’re looking for a free course, there’s Graphic Design Specialization being offered by the California Institute of the Arts via Coursera.
Many will argue that even watching vlogs and tutorials counts as studying, albeit not in a formal classroom. From motion, graphic to UX design, YouTube is a gold mine of tutorials by designers just waiting to be discovered. Femke von Schoonhoven hosts a variety of videos on product design and UX and provides an in-depth look into the life of a full-time product designer. Satori Graphics or Tom Cargill posts videos on career and personal advancement for freelancers, the right mentality to succeed as a designer and components of a good design contract. He also does tutorials on poster design and speed art. The Futur, founded by Chris Do, is a hub for guides and tips on how to make it as a designer. The channel has videos on how to charge more for a logo, how to build a brand and other tips to jumpstart one’s design career.
Web page development
You’ve dabbled in making websites and web pages for some time and now want to take it more seriously, maybe even make a career of it. You have design and copy in mind, but you just don’t have the digital knowledge about the basics of web hosting and domains.
Google, through OpenClassrooms, is offering associate level diploma courses on web development that can help propel your web development career. This course can also be your springboard for obtaining more advanced knowledge as a developer in the future. A caveat, though: This course has prerequisites for admission. But if you’re determined enough, the requirements should be easy to accomplish.
You can also find paid courses and videos on LinkedIn to further hone your web development skills. You can even supplement these with other relevant tutorials such as those on presenting one’s work to an audience and understanding user behavior and how users interact with design. Courses such as How to Create Your Website Strategy: The Discovery Process, Ace Your Web Developer Interview and Visual Studio Step-by-Step hosted by professionals on LinkedIn are good introductory or refresher courses for newbies and seasoned developers, respectively.
What’s stopping you from taking the leap?
Don’t wait ‘til the weekend, start of a new month or a rare celestial event to begin looking for that course. Dive into it now and take the first step to learning a new digital skill. A quick search for courses online will yield a lot of options for you. Find one that fits your needs and/or goals. It’s easy to enroll and pick a schedule once you’ve found the course for you. Don’t overthink whether your decision to take a digital course is right or not. Language is not a concern either as most courses offer subtitles in different languages to cater to a wider demographic. Don’t worry about what others might say about your move. What matters is you’re doing something for yourself and your future.
Plan your schedule next. This means meshing your work schedule (if you’re currently employed) with your online classes. Most online courses have flexible schedules and have been designed to accommodate working individuals. You can take your classes during lunch, after office or during weekends to avoid conflicts with work deliverables. You can consider telling your supervisor so as to be transparent with your schedule.
If you do not have work at the moment, all the better as you have a more open schedule for classes. But if you are currently employed, be mindful that the priority is still your job. Be sure that you don’t compromise work quality or deadlines. This does not mean though that you should take it easy with your online courses. Make the most of these classes. Focus when it’s time for class and get in the proper headspace. This way, you’d have minimal distractions as you attend the classes.
Do take notes and practice newly learned skills in your own time. Surely, you’re familiar with online tools such as Google Docs that you can use to help you with notes, file management and even file sharing or brainstorming with classmates.
Some start a course, attend a few classes and then stop because of prior commitments or loss of interest. While money may not be an issue because the online course is free, time wasted is another thing altogether. One unconventional tip to help you stick it out: post about your progress on social media or talk about it with friends on your group chat. This way, you’ll be motivated to finish the course – better to have the pressure come from friends, right?
Make the most of technology to improve your skills and watch a whole new world of opportunities open for you. As we all collectively adopt a highly digitized society, so should we level up our digital skills and capabilities. Don’t be afraid of not knowing what to do or not starting soon enough. Opening your computer, checking out courses and enrolling already make a huge difference – just be sure to finish whatever you start!