Job Advice Blog

Dos and Don'ts of Online Courses

Dos and Don'ts of Online Courses

One of the greatest things about living in the age of the internet is the way it grants us access to tremendous amounts of information. If you want to learn about something, no matter how esoteric and bizarre it is, you can. This can be done with simple search engine searches for simple things, and for more complex ones there are online courses. There is some form of online course available for just about anything you could want to learn, whether it is a free course offered (without credit) through MIT, or a fully credited course offered via an online university, something will exist for whatever you feel like you should learn.

A lot of people dive deep into the well of online learning, thinking that every course is going to help their career. While knowledge is always better than ignorance, not all knowledge pulled down off the web is going to help your career. Today we are going to look at some dos and don’ts of online courses.

Do Pursue Relevant Courses- If you work in graphic design you could be interested in accounting, but an accounting certificate will not help your portfolio. If you don’t know anyone in your department who has mastered the skill you want to learn- it probably will not help your career. Remember that if you are using it to boost your career you have to sell the course’s usefulness to your employer. How much the help the course will be to your career is directly tied to how much help it will be to your company’s bottom line. Remember that and choose accordingly.

Don’t Forget About the Time Commitment- Like all other courses, online courses take work. If you sign up for an online course, you better be prepared to log all the time required. This could be a couple hours a day for several weeks, which can take a toll on your professional or familial life. Be aware of the time commitment, and budget your time before you start.

Do Keep up with your Field- The range of human knowledge is constantly being pushed forward, and sometimes that means what you learned 5 years ago is no longer valid or relevant. Online courses can be really useful for ensuring that you don’t get left behind. If you are working in a field that changes rapidly, taking courses from time to time can ensure that you don’t get left in the dust as the information changes.

Don’t List Intro Classes- You don’t have much space on your resume, save what you have for good stuff. This means that you shouldn’t waste space on listing every course you have taken. If possible you should only list big milestones (certificates and degrees earned), as they carry a lot more weight than various courses.

Online courses are an excellent way to expand your knowledge, but if you want them to help your career you need to be smart about how you use them. Remember to keep it relevant, budget your time, keep up with the rapidly changing world- and not to list irrelevant courses on your resume, and you could make great use of the internet’s endless stream of knowledge!