Ready for Career Change? 5 Ways MOOCs Can Help

Mid-life career change often calls for developing new skills, discovering career fields that resonate with you, and sharpening your learning curve. One opportunity that is easy to overlook: Take a free MOOC course.

If you’ve been anywhere on the planet recently, you probably know about MOOCs.MOOC stands for Massive Online Open Courses. Professors from top universities have been offering courses online through ventures such as edX and Coursera. Some have started offering certificates to people who complete the requirements, take exams and follow specific procedures to document participation.

MOOCs are delivered as a combo of video and audio: a professor lectures into the camera and you hear the sound via computer (I prefer headphones myself).

Besides video lectures, you get a host of material: access to background reading (sometimes at no cost except download and printing), quizzes to keep on track, exams, and discussion forums. The quality of the forums varies widely and all the tests and quizzes are optional. You can commit seriously to a course or two or dabble in half a dozen.

MOOCs can become addictive, if you’re the kind of person who always wanted to be a permanent student. Many people find they’re turning to MOOCs instead of their formerly favorite television program.

MOOCs are not for everyone. If you’re a totally visual learner, you learn by reading. In that case you can take notes and refer to your notes afterward. If you’re an auditory learner, you’re in luck.

All that aside, here are 5 reasons to MOOC:

(1) Learn a marketable skill. If you’re disciplined and motivated you can get free training in programing as well as other skills. Coursera has offered Python programing. Udemy offers a wide variety of online courses at moderate investments on topics like Adobe Photoshop, web development and social media for startups.

(2) Fire up your brain. We rarely engage in conceptual thinking or get out of our intellectual comfort zone after finishing school (lawyers and some other fields excepted). After a few online courses, don’t be surprised to find you’re thinking differently and asking new questions. You might find your grasping new material more easily and confidently (especially if you choose challenging courses).

(3) Expand your creativity. Creativity thrives on change and novelty.When I study a topic that’s far removed from marketing and business, I get more ideas for my business.

(4) Prepare for a degree or certificate program. Are you thinking of signing up for a degree program? Getting an industry certificate? If you’ve been out of school awhile, you might be a little concerned about getting back into the study groove. MOOCs are risk-free: you’ll get used to digesting new material and responding to test questions (if you choose to take the quizzes and tests).

(5) Recognize your true interests and aptitudes. Do you find yourself drawn to courses in literature, social sciences, or science? Even if you’re an omnivorous course taker, you’ll find you tend to read certain material faster and do the assignments in some courses more readily than in others.

Of course responding to a course isn’t necessarily a predictor of satisfaction for careers in that field. I know many people who hated their professional training but loved their careers afterward.

Still, you’ll realize that your brain naturally grooves in some courses and not others.

For instance, programming requires a strong attention to detail and high frustration tolerance. Much as I’d love to be a techie, I suspect it’s just not in the cards for me. Social sciences – understand how people act and why they make choices – remains my true niche.

Time for a Career Change? What to Consider Prior and During the Transition

When you feel that there is no more movement or satisfaction in your current career, a change may help you to open up new opportunities and life experiences. Such a change does not happen in an instant, though. You cannot leave your current position and find another with wonderful results throughout. There are things to consider prior to and during the transition. When it comes time to make a change, be ready. This is the only way to ensure that you get to a new career where you are happy and can live to your fullest potential.

Before doing anything, make sure that you are ready to make a change. Some people are unhappy for a moment and equate that to a lifetime of unhappiness. Do not get caught up in one of these moments and make a decision that you might later regret. Take a step back to examine the path that you have led thus far. Look at how the career has challenged you, how you have felt during tasks, how you have risen through the ranks, how you have changed the organization or even the industry, how those in and out of the organization have treated you, and what you have taken away from this time. Take an objective look at your entire experience in your current career.

There are times when the need for a change is obvious. Underappreciated, bored, and unmotivated, your job may not fulfill you the same way it did before. You might think that none of your work really matters or that the money is not worth what you put into the job. Maybe you do not feel like you belong there, or you are too exhausted to feel like you belong. When this happens, you have to figure out what type of move suits you. You can move through the same organization or find an employer in the same industry, or you can find a new career. Figure out the type of change that works best for you.

When taking the first step to changing jobs or careers, do research. Find something that you like. If you want to stay within the same organization, look into openings or potential openings. Talk to other people in the organization. When switching jobs in the same industry, look into and compare organizations. Find a place that offers what your current job cannot. If you want a new career, look into what will ignite your passion and give you the happiness you cannot have now.

Start building up your skills, training, and education. Update everything so that you can remain an attractive potential employee. For a change in your current industry, try to focus on the applicable skills and knowledge for your new job. In a new industry, begin learning and building up your resume to show that you have developed a foundation for growth and future success.

As you look into building up your resume, network. Start getting to know people in the industry or profession that you want. Find people who can help you with the transition, finding a new job, and improving your abilities in the new job. Head over to conventions and any area where you know these professionals are likely to go.

Begin trying your hand at volunteer or low-level work. This may not be the big, promising position that you want, but it does give you some insight into the new job. You will have relevant experience that will help you as you take on the new career. When doing this work, try to find someone who will help you to understand more about the career. A mentor will give you knowledge and understanding that you would not have otherwise.

Start finding your dream career. If this is something that you want, go for it. With an updated resume and your newfound knowledge and skills, you can take on this task. It might take a little while to get everything sorted, and you will have to be flexible and patient since you are starting from the bottom again, but it is worth it once you are happy in your chosen career.

Career Change Skills: 5 Methods to Help You Change Careers!

Oh, for the good old days. You went to school as far as you could, found a job, worked there until you retired and that was it. So, why isn’t this path working anymore? The economy seems to be changing before our eyes, an industry that held great promise a few years ago, now is disappearing. New job titles are popping up everywhere with new industries appearing all over the globe.

After 20 or more years working in one career, you now may be unemployed with little hope your old job will ever return. So now when you should be enjoying the satisfaction of working in a settled career you have to start all over again.

Welcome to the new career life cycle. The new career path is to get educated, find a career, get some experience; your skills max out, the career and job end, you add some more training, find another career and job, your skills max out, your career and job end and so it goes until you retire. The question it: how can you succeed in this type of unpredictable and chaotic work and career environment?

The foundation of moving from career to career or industry to industry is to identify all of your transferable skills that you can apply to a new career. In transferring these skills you need to identify and package them so the new employer has a high degree of assurance that you can perform the required duties of the new career.

Here are five ideas on how you can build and transfer the required skills:

1. Make it a habit to study careers. Be aware of your area job market and be alert about career and job trends. A good practice is to copy interesting job announcements. Take note of the skills required. Be aware of listed skills that you do not have.

2. Assess your skills. Take an inventory of your skills. Something that you may take for granted, for example, managing a time sensitive project and negotiating with vendors to get the job done on time, may be what you do well but from the outside it’s a series of valuable and hard-earned skills.

3. Never stop learning. Plan on a lifetime of learning. From learning a new language to the latest in technology you should be adding to your skills on a regular basis. A regular reading program should be central to your efforts. Local colleges and schools have a wealth of programs. Distance learning on the internet is exploding with a wide range of offerings.

4. Build your experience. Activities outside of your normal work are valuable methods to build your experience. Working with your church group or a charity that you have an interest in can all be methods to gain experience. Career group associations are another avenue where you can add to your experience.

5. Redefine yourself. You are not a job title. You are not the sum of your work experience. You are accomplishments and skills and abilities. You get things done, problems solved, barriers breached, teams built, customers served, ideas created and implemented all to bring value to the job and benefits to your employer.

By redefining yourself and focusing your efforts on skills needed by a prospective employer your career change will be successful. Since it’s likely that you will be going down this career change path a number of times, keep working and applying the five methods to open up new career opportunities and when required, to make the transition as painless as possible.