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.

Job Hopper Alternatives, 5 Ways to Build Variety Into Your Career

One of the reasons that many ENFPs and ENTPs become a job hopper is that they love variety and may have a low boredom threshold, so if their current job doesn’t offer them some variety or challenge they end up job hopping.

One way to get round this is by building variety and change into your job or even into your entire career path. This can be a really effective way of not only making sure that you are more likely to enjoy the job, but also helping you to stay there longer.

The good news is that there are many ways to do this, and below are some that I’ve used and have seen work for others.

Areas that are change focused

Industries that are changing quickly, for example high growth areas, those that depend on technology and those that are very competitive, can be of interest to people who are adaptable and like change. In these areas innovation is often seen as a competitive advantage and ‘the old, established’ way of doing things becomes obsolete very quickly.

Project-based work

Personality Page describes both ENFPs and ENTPs as being project-oriented and there are a lot of project-oriented jobs out there that are worth looking at. Careers that fit this description can be found in many areas, commercial and non-commercial, and include business consulting, architecture, marketing, event planning, wedding planning, coaching and training.

Transfer to a different department

An intercompany transfer will allow you to do the same job in a different part of the organization, a different part of the country, or even a different part of the world. You may also be able to transfer to a different job. A transfer maybe permanent or temporary depending on the policy of the organization in question.

Work for a small company or start-up

I love working for small companies as you often get to ‘wear many hats’, i.e., do you many different roles so there’s a lot of variety to every day. This is particularly the case if the company is growing quickly, in which case there may be the opportunity to craft a new role for yourself.

Recraft your current job

Everyone has parts of their job they enjoy a lot more than others. Why not look into delegating the parts of your role you don’t enjoy as much, or arranging an exchange with a team member. If you love the bit of your job that involves getting out and talking to people but don’t like doing detailed planning and reports, try teaming up with someone who likes the opposite things to you.

Not only could you both end up enjoying your jobs more and increasing your performance, but who knows what good things could come from the close collaboration.

Choosing one, or a combination of these ideas as you plan your career can be really effective in making sure that you are more likely to enjoy a job. They may also help you to stay there longer, so although you will still change job at some stage, you will probably have enjoyed it a lot more while you were doing it and will have stayed long enough to have got something out of it. And very importantly, when you come to craft your resume or CV, you won’t look like a job hopper.