|Job Perfection Series:|
This article is part of a five part series on finding your career calling. To start this series from the beginning, read the introduction.
Today we reach for the top and get schooled in the ways to enhance one’s education for a new career on a budget. There are many ways to reach a state of higher learning without spending big bucks. Depending on your current skills, passions, goals, and network you may not need to spend a single cent on schooling.
Here are ten ways to enhance your education for your career calling:
1. Love the Library:
I just recently rediscovered the library. The library is a frugal find for anyone looking to reach higher learning for a fraction of the cost. Consult the library for books, videos, or tapes on any career or job imaginable. Sign up for a borrower’s card today and get learning to love the local library today.
2. Join Professional Associations:
I mentioned this affordable method of networking yesterday! Joining professional associations like Toastmasters can also enhance your education beyond compare. Meet with various groups for a weekly or monthly meet-up to really benefit. Just get out there and learn from the pros!
3. Buy Books:
If the library is low on the information you need to ramp up to a new career, go ahead and buy a book. Being a book worm is far more affordable than going back to school to hit the books big time. Books are fabulous finds for those looking to get back into a field from an absence, for those looking for greener pastures, and for those just looking to make a switch.
4. Examine Employer Programs:
Does your current employer offer an educational program or tuition credits to get you learning? Many employers offer their employees programs for upgrading skills and knowledge while still working full time hours. The benefit here is you keep your current paycheck while taking advantage of additional tutelage.
5. Consider Cooperative Placements:
Are you a student bashing your brain against some dense academic book? Books are great, but they don’t give you the valuable career experience offered through cooperative education job placements. The considerable benefit of co-op placement is you get a feel for a particular path before committing to it longer term. Cooperative education usually lasts a term or semester, so students can really get a feel for a job before graduation. Be sure to try before you buy, and perhaps you’ll find your fit within your career calling before graduation.
6. Value Volunteer Experience:
A wicked way to enhance your career path education is through volunteer work. Don’t be afraid to call up various organizations and companies to see if they need a friendly face on Fridays. I’ve known a few volunteers to get hired based on their interest and dedication to their volunteer work.
7. Pinpoint Government Programs:
A few years ago the technology sector was hit hard with layoffs. My company went out of business and I was left without work. The feeling was terrible and I went though a bit of a pity patch. Looking back, I wish I had taken advantage of all the government programs available to unemployed people looking for a career break. The government offers numerous local, provincial/state, and federal programs to those seeking jobs, looking to change careers, looking to re-enter the workforce, and students. Consult your local employment office and see what’s available based on your current situation. You never know unless you ask!
8. Search Online Courses:
Clickity click, online education is the trick! Who needs to sit in an expensive classroom these days when so many interesting and marketable courses are available affordably online. Many colleges and universities these days offer students the option to study online at their own pace and within their own schedule. Some courses are free. Some come with a small fee. Be sure to verify the validity of the school and course before your register. You don’t want to learn the hard way if the program is not professionally run.
9. Chase Continuing Education:
Got some time to study evenings or weekends? Then adult continuing education may be the boost you need to maintain your current job (and paycheck) while deepening your knowledge in another field. Continuing education is an awesome way to boost your credentials, earn a certificate, even graduate with a diploma. Check your local colleges for professional programs and see what is available.
10. Pursue College or University:
Hey big spender! Looking to enhance your career path though advanced pedagogy? Then biting the big bucks bullet may be your only course of action. Some fields require professional degrees for employment. If your passion is to work as a doctor, lawyer, engineer, pharmacist, or teacher you will have to hit the books hard and study for a degree. If you’re smart about it, you may just find a bursary or special scholarship for career changers or job hunters. Get in the know and ask employers, governments, and various associations if there’s funding available for people with your kind of passion.
Build a Book:
Be sure to add your educational enhancements to the scrapbook you have been building throughout this series. This book will come in handy when building your resume, writing your cover letter, and preparing for interviews.
Share Your Thoughts:
I’d like to open things up now by asking you to share your biggest job hunting tips, hints, and misses. Sharing your story with others may just inspire someone to make a career switch, find the perfect job, or re-enter the workforce after an absence. Have you found your career calling? Does the perfect job exist?
@hana To me it sounds like you are in an awesome position. You have some education and many interests to help guide you along a path. Perhaps the best option is to narrow down your interests and start targeting those for work. Sometimes landing an opportunity and getting some experience can help you further narrow your interests in the future. Trying a career today does not mean you cannot try something else later. 🙂
I too am a jack of all trades, which can at times be frustrating if a particular path requires mastery skills. But on the whole I have found having a diverse background very advantageous. The key is to find where all your skills intersect. 🙂
Thank you for all the useful advice you have given. I am at the moment in a very bad position, with just some education and no paid work experience. I don’t have much money, and been thinking gloomily about the future. Now after reading these, I happily feel there are many things I can do to get a job I love. The only problem seems to be I’m a jack of all trades and master of none. I just have too many interests and career paths I want to take are numerous. I wish I was born centuries ago, when there wasn’t so much required to be something, and people just could be a mathematician, an astronomer, an artist etc. all at the same time!
@Humi I’m so happy you enjoyed this series and thank you for letting me know. I too make far less than I used to…but I am a far happier person these days. 🙂
Great site and a great series. Your blog is a definite feed. I myself have had a strange and joyous ride finding out what I want to do with my life and I’m still pondering. What I mostly want is to be a father to my family and do someone some good. Strangely although I am now in a less payed job (teacher) than I used to have (a salesperson for a bank) my money worries are much less fewer, and I think that is somewhat because with this job I really feel like I’m doing someone some good, not just selling overdraft.
Thanks again, I will be reading more of your site.
-Humi from Iceland
Hi Kerry 🙂 I’ve followed your blog and I’ve been checking out your website for about 3 or 4 years. I’m really loving it!
At the moment I’m kind of in a holding pattern as far as work goes 😛 I graduated from university in ’09 and spent 3 years working in China (teaching English), which earned me a ton of work/life experience, and some stellar references. I also saved enough to support myself through grad school. Woo!
I returned to Ireland (home) in May ’11 ready to go back to school in the autumn. Paid my full tuition, rent/utilities and still had some money left over to put into a savings account. Armed with my references and an A++ resume I was confident I could bag a top part-time job for some extra spending money, and maybe add to the savings pile. All was peachy keen…
…Then the recession hit Ireland. Fun (Not really).
Fast forward to present day and I have completed the taught section of Masters course, but due to financial and health issues I had to ask for an extension on my thesis. Luckily I received a fee waiver so I don’t have to pay any more college fees (Thank you university admin and fees office!).
I had to sign on for jobseeker’s allowance since I have sent out countless C.V.s, but as yet have only been called for one interview.
I’m keeping my chin up and counting my blessings daily though 🙂
I checked out your blog for tips, and following your advice I downsized my living space (moved into a house with other people, lower rent and shared utilities), I signed on to a lot of e-learning sites (Coursera.org, MIT online classes) and I’ve set myself small goals like getting fit and learning to cook new dishes.
Thank you for your website. It has really helped me to stay focused and kept me aware of the practical things I can do to better my situation. Fingers crossed I’ll get my thesis done and graduate next year!
-Determined job seeker Dani