How to Get Your Dream Job Without the Required Experience

Ambition of a young architect

Right major?  Check.  Enough software knowledge?  Check.  Cultural Fit?  Check.  Sufficient years of experience?  Uh-oh.

You’re looking at the job listing for your ideal gig just a little while after graduation and feel the excitement mounting inside of you with every requirement you know you can fulfill.  Then you see that you need 2 years of work experience – which you don’t have as a new grad.  Ugh.  Do you pull back and look for a position that you don’t want as much?  Do you resign yourself to a job you know will bore you for the next couple of years?

No.  Stop and think like a hiring manager. They are looking for candidates who know their stuff.  It just so happens that the general consensus says knowing your stuff requires some experience in the industry.  This study by McKinsey & Co. and Chegg even says that college graduates are under prepared but overqualified for employment…a finding that will naturally push hiring managers away from hiring recent grads.

So clearly, your next step should be to prove that you are sufficiently prepared for employment.  How?  Build a portfolio of work similar to what you would be doing on the job and submit it with your job application.  Refocus the potential employer’s attention on your skills and potential and away from metrics that don’t necessarily describe what you can do properly.  Here’s how.

 

Step 1 – MOOCs:  Learning the Skills

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are classes from well known Universities that professors modify for distance learning to allow access to any student for free.  Many of these courses teach exactly the same material as what the professors teach in their traditional classes, but you can take them in your spare time without spending money to build your knowledge and skills base.

Keep in mind that your major and college classes are not the full span of your capabilities.  An English degree is a great base for a copywriting career, but taking a few classes on your own time in marketing techniques can give your writing the boost you need to land that job at an ad agency.

Websites like Coursera and EdX provide great platforms for MOOCs.  It is important, however, to record your work for the class.  The assignments and projects you complete are great additions to your professional portfolio, as they legitimize the coursework you do through MOOCs.  You can keep track of all this by downloading your work as you complete it, or by using websites like Accredible to transfer all of your online coursework to one place that can be linked to the rest of your portfolio.

 

Step 2 – Speculative Projects/Case Studies:  Applying the Skills

There are case studies all over the internet – taking a few and using skills you learned from college and your MOOCs to write an analysis for each can help get your feet wet in the kind of thinking you need to solve problems in your industry.

Speculative or freelancing projects are also great ways to simulate what you will be doing later in a full time job.  Telling a small or mid-sized business or nonprofit organization that you are willing to help them out for free or little charge is an easy way to land some of these projects – this is time you are spending building work experience regardless of the amount you are getting paid.

Specifically working with nonprofit organizations in a volunteer position not only gives you the added experience for your newly developed skills, it also shows a more human side of your personality.  Maybe your volunteer work for Habitat for Humanity relates to your passion for fighting poverty, or perhaps your commitment to proper healthcare is showcased through your extensive work with the Red Cross.  Talking about your volunteer work in an interview is also great way to transition to you personal qualities and cultural fit.

 

Step 3 – Research:  Effectively Showcasing the Skills

Know what’s going on!  Read the news, find new articles on techniques and technology, and learn to use the newest software.  Once your profile gets you to an interview, you still need to prove that you can hit the ground running upon receiving an offer.

Having background knowledge about developments the company and its industry can help you come up with possible solutions to their problems before you are even working there – there is no better way than that to show that you would be an asset to the team.

Follow those three steps and you can show the hiring manager that you are perfect for your dream job because even though you don’t have years under your belt, you have the necessary skills and can demonstrate initiative to continue building more in the future.

Buzzwords Decoded: Dynamic

Innovation - Ideas Light Bulb Hatching

Welcome to another week of Buzzwords Decoded with Accredible!  Last week we cleared up the ruckus around ‘motivation’ and are back again with ‘dynamic’ to take your resume up another notch.

 

Definition: Merriam-Webster Dictionary

: always active or changing

: having or showing a lot of energy

: of or relating to energy, motion, or physical force

 

How to Use it Incorrectly

Saying that you are a dynamic person can mean a lot of different things in a lot of different contexts.  Usually, ‘dynamic’ refers to something that changes.  In the workplace, that may not necessarily be a good thing.  Flexibility?  Yes.  Employee who randomly decides to change his approach to work?  No.  Are employers really that nitpicky about the word and its exact meaning?  Probably not, but if your usage of a word doesn’t click immediately, someone who has mere seconds to look at your resume will just gloss over it and you will have lost an opportunity to make an imprint in their mind.

Unless you have an extensive amount of work experience full of career moves and advances, your resume usually will be limited to 1 page.  Cramming your entire personality and life experience onto a single page is difficult and every word is precious.  Losing the chance to shine because of a poorly used word in an unfortunate opportunity cost.

 

How to Use it Properly

Like any overt claim you make about yourself on your resume, it is important to back it up and provide context. If the executive summary of your resume refers to you as a ‘dynamic go-getter’ and never goes back to explain why later, the word is lost and has no meaning.  Assuming you absolutely must use the word, talk about how dynamic your ideas were on a project.

Still, ‘dynamic’ is simply an overly vague word.  If you mean that you are a flexible person, use ‘flexible’.  If you mean energetic, just use ‘energetic’.  The person reading your resume is probably a person (or sometimes a computer, but that’s just another reason to keep it simple) who doesn’t use flowery vocabulary themselves in real life.  The easier you make it for them to get through your entire resume quickly, the more likely they are to get the impression you originally intended from your application.

 

Take Away

‘Dynamic’ is an odd word that doesn’t usually describe a person clearly without direct examples.  Even with a lot of context, it can usually be replaced with a much more simple and straightforward term.  Just Keep It Simple, Silly!

Do you have a resume cliche you’d like to see addressed in this series?  Leave a comment below with your word and the Accredibles will decode your cliche as quickly as possible!

He Flunked, Was Rejected, Went Bankrupt…And Then Founded The Walt Disney Company

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An actor, animator, filmmaker, and wildly successful businessman, its kind of shocking at first to hear that Walt Disney only had around 9 years of formal education.  He started school at the ripe old age of 7 and dropped out at 16 to join the military.  Unfortunately (or fortunately) for him, he was rejected for being underage and spent a year in France with the Red Cross instead.  After returning to the United States, Disney received his first job as a cartoonist in 1919, and the rest is history.

 

“Children have got to be free to lead their own lives.” – Sebastian, The Little Mermaid

small_2917335255Despite having strict parents, Walt grew up doing what he wanted when he wanted.  He was a shrewd businessman even as a child.  After his father, Elias, bought a newspaper delivery route, Walt was made to work for him without pay.  He knew how to make the best of his situation, though.  From delivering medicines for the local pharmacy on his route to selling extra papers without his father’s knowledge, Walt developed a thriving business of his own without any help, encouragement, or formal education.  This continued throughout his few years in high school and, of course, eventually led to exemplary management of the Walt Disney Company.

 

“The very things that hold you down are going to lift you up.” – Timothy Mouse, Dumbo

Classes came second to work for Walt during his schooling years.  His exhausting work schedule left little time to study, which had a heavy impact on his grades.  Even as he worked such a demanding schedule and small_6635533755trudged through school, however, Walt always found time to indulge in his passion for drawing.  He traded his cartoons for haircuts, became the cartoonist for his school’s newspaper, and later submitted to magazines and drew for his co-workers in Paris – all learned from just a couple of brief stints in art classes.

All the work, discipline, and cartoons did very little for Walt’s grades as a child, but he grew up to build The Walt Disney Company – so it is difficult to argue against the merits of his childhood activities.  He learned how to run a business, work with colleagues, and develop a skill that would redefine animation and serve as a catalyst into a new age of cinema.

 

“If your heart is in your dream, no request is too extreme.” – Jiminy Cricket, Pinocchio

Walt’s success can really be attributed more to his attitude than any form of education (and perhaps even small_2486345776experience).  “Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.”  This was the philosophy he lived by: to achieve excellence and watch the theaters fill up as his reward.  This attitude inspired Walt to take risks (like starting a business) that sometimes caused him to fail (he had to declare bankruptcy in 1922), but then he got back up again and made Alice in Wonderland.  

Teaching yourself anything can seem like an insurmountable challenge when you get a good look at just how much there is to learn, but the real magic is in the learning, not the teaching itself.  A teacher (whether its a person, software, book, or audio recording) can only teach as well as its student can learn.  Walt is an ultimate example of a sponge learner – he soaked up his experiences so well, he never even needed a teacher to hold his hand.

 

“You just need to believe in yourself.” – Rex, Toy Storysmall_9594201177

So basically: Walt Disney went to school for 9 years, flunked most of the time, dropped out of high school, never went to college, taught himself to be a businessman and cartoonist purely by learning while doing, and became the roots of one of the most admired companies in the world.  He must have done something right.

 

“Hakuna Matata!” – Timon and Pumbaa, The Lion King

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photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/expressmonorail/3108405260/”>Express Monorail</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>
 

Buzzwords Decoded: Motivation

Innovation - Ideas Light Bulb Hatching

Welcome to another week of Buzzwords Decoded with Accredible!  Last week we cleared up the ruckus around ‘innovation’ and are back again with ‘motivation’ to take your resume up another notch.

Definition: Merriam-Webster Dictionary

1a :  the act or process of motivating

1b :  the condition of being motivated

2:  a motivating force, stimulus, or influence :  incentive, drive

 

How to Use it Incorrectly

Ever since we learned what a resume was and its importance in the job search, we have been taught to toot our own horns.  Obviously, displaying how awesome you are is essential to getting a hiring manager to look twice – but being obvious about it can actually be off-putting, believe it or not.  Your goal should be to make your horn so attractive that people are drawn to it without requiring obnoxious pleas for attention.

The art of ‘humble self promotion’ is difficult to grasp because it is done differently for each person, but taking out the ‘humble’ can make you sound like a bad salesman – and that will put off anyone who is looking at your resume.

 

How to Use it Properly

Going on and on about how motivated you are as a professional doesn’t actually say anything about you without some solid context demonstrating why you think you are a motivated person.  If you want to show that you are motivated, a quick description of a time when you overcame several challenges to get something done on time could be very helpful.

Another way to show you are motivated is to say why instead of how.  Giving examples of instances when you have shown motivation can take up valuable space on your resume.  Instead, you could demonstrate why you are motivated.  Maybe you have a career goal you are trying to reach or believe strongly in the social mission of the company you are working for.  These things can help to not only eliminate annoying buzzwords, but also humanize you out of a pile of robot resumes.

Asking someone to vouch for you is also a great way to show off your horn without tooting it.  Someone else has nothing to gain by praising you.  So when your former supervisor takes the time to write a great LinkedIn recommendation about how dedicated and motivated you were to accomplishing your goals, a future hiring manager is bound to take it seriously.

 

Take Away

Saying that you are motivated tells an employer or potential mentor nothing of substance and makes you sound robotic.  Solution:  You must prove it with an example, reason, or recommendation.  These things will help your work speak for itself and you won’t need cliched buzzwords that people glaze over anyway.

 

Do you have a resume cliche you’d like to see addressed in this series?  Leave a comment below with your word and the Accredibles will decode your cliche as quickly as possible!

3 Traits that Made Sherlock Holmes a Genius

ALDERNEY - 2009: shows Sherlock Holmes

Whether you think of him as the quirky young gentleman from 19th Century Britain or the high functioning sociopath with a drug problem from present day London, Sherlock Holmes’ genius is undisputed.  The question is, how did Arthur Conan Doyle develop his legendary character’s powers of deduction?  An excellent formal education?  Natural skill?  Well, natural skill certainly had a lot to do with it, but the secret ingredient is a healthy dose of autodidacticism.

 

Lots of Reading & Background Junk

Sherlock Holmes was always reading something new – whether it was in Doyle’s books, one of the several subsequent movies, or the most recent Sherlock series, Dr. Watson mentioned the stacks of papers and books all over Sherlock’s work space and apartment several times.

Naturally, with all this reading came a wealth of background knowledge.  In his most modern adaptation, Sherlock is seen conducting research and tests that only trained professionals are able to do.  Yet, Sherlock Holmes is known to have attended college only briefly and never finished his undergraduate degree.  His natural talent and ability to learn quickly opened him to information that a formal education never provided.

This extensive background knowledge is integral to Sherlock Holmes’ powers of deduction.  After all, to deduce something, you must be able to rule out options which is only possible if you have enough information about it to make a decision.

 

Chaotic Creativity

Anyone who has seen the most recent, highly acclaimed Sherlock series can attest to the the fact that the apartment the detective shares with Dr. Watson is not only messy, but straight up gross.  There are disgusting eyeballs in the fridge and human skulls on the mantle of the fireplace.  In one scene, one such eyeball even falls into Sherlock’s tea – which he continues to drink contemplatively.

Such chaos (except maybe a bit more hygienic) is characteristic of a number of creative geniuses.  Mark Twain always had the messiest desk that spawned some of the best loved literature of all time.  Albert Einstein was cool with a crazy workspace too, saying, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”

So basically, keeping himself surrounded by chaos kept Sherlock’s mind in a chaos as well, with everything zooming around in disarray.  Often, things lined up in the right order, and the result was Arthur Conan Doyle’s infinite success.

 

Focus

It is contradicting to say in one breath that Sherlock’s mind was full of chaotic creativity, and in the next that he had an amazing level of focus. His ability to focus on certain parts of the chaos is what allowed him to zone in on the things that had lined up in the right order. Clearly focus is important.

But Sherlock Holmes’ biggest strength was not his ability to concentrate on something in particular – rather it was the organization with which he quickly refocused on detail after detail.  The infamous scene where Sherlock deduces that Watson had been in a war, for example, required him to zoom in and out with his observations very quickly (considering he deduced this after a mere glance).

Even without an extensive formal education, Sherlock Holmes was able to teach himself what the average person would require several formal degrees to learn even a fraction of.  Why?  Because he learned for the sole purpose of knowing and utilizing information rather than with the specific goal of obtaining a degree or job.

The beauty of how things work today is the sheer number of free resources available to all aspiring autodidacts.  From MOOCs to free online books to YouTube tutorials, it’s all there – along with tools like Accredible that can help focus and organize your learning process.  So do you want to be as smart as Sherlock Holmes?  Go do some reading, drive your mind to crazy chaos, and then focus and organize it.  Easy as pie.

5 Awesome Online Learning Tools

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Whether you’re a high school student studying for a test, a college senior cramming for your last exam, or an entrepreneur taking an online class to improve your leadership skills, online learning tools can become your best friend.  Not only are they easy to use, but are also increasingly accessible and decidedly a leap into the future of education.  Here are 5 such tools to keep on your radar.

 

Anki – Powerful, Intelligent Flashcards

photo credit: ekai via photopin cc

Many of us are familiar with the beauty of online flashcards through Quizlet or StudyStack (fantastic classics that everyone should have bookmarked!), but Anki takes the undeniable efficiency of flashcards to the next level by making them ‘intelligent’.  Using spaced repetition software (SRS), Anki can predict what you already know and what you still need to learn, which lets it present only the information you still need to learn when you need to learn it.  So it pretty much organizes your brain for you – pretty cool and kind of scary (in a cool way).

If that isn’t enough, Anki is also highly customizable and controllable due to an open code and storage format.  Plus, you can download the app and study on the go (if you’re that hard core about it) or access the software online to prep from a different computer.  Conclusion:  Click on this link.  Stat.

 

Memrise – Learning, Powered by Imagination

Memrise is more of a tool to help you hone your mind and thought process than to help you study for a particular class.  Think Karate Kid: “Wax on, wax off.” Before you know it, you’ll be kicking butt on all your tests and projects (waxing rag in hand).

Memrise is the epitome of the gamification of learning.  You can learn the basics of languages, history, science, and trivia all while earning points and competing with other users.  It may not be the perfect tool to help you understand Organic Chemistry, but its definitely a solid summer tool to prepare for your upcoming class.  Conclusion: Check this out during your next study break!

 

Evernote – Remember Everything

Remembering a complex equation from your advanced calculus class, all the instructions your boss just gave you while you were drooling over your amazing chocolate cake from lunch, and the recipe for said chocolate cake can get complicated.  Evernote has your back with its family of apps that will help you stay organized.

Saving pictures, notes, screenshots, multimedia links, and documents in one place is the best way to make sure everything gets done, and Evernote makes it easy with a simple interface and myriad of features.  Conclusion:  Watch these videos. The background music sounds kind of like a Michael Buble song…and they’ll convince you to give the app a try!

 

Feedly – Read More, Know More.

mouse-306274_150Best thing about Feedly – it makes you sound smarter than you really are.  Just set up a few notifications for subject areas you want to know about and wait for Feedly to update you on the newest published material.  Next, just read, process, and voila!  You know about the new big thing before your non-Feedly-er interviewer or classmate and get to sound well connected and…well…smart.

Plus, its really easy to use.  You literally go to the website or download the app, pick a few websites and blogs, and start reading.  The only real effort you have to put in is to scan a few lines of words and process them.  Conclusion:  Unless you look into the Mirror of Erised and see nothing but yourself and your awesomeness, go here and pick a square.

 

ExamTime – Transform Your Potential

This one is the ultimate learning tool.  You can make mind maps and flashcards, take quizzes, and make notes.  The awesome part is that you can literally learn anything!  On my first visit to the homepage, the first thing I saw was a Breaking Bad quiz.  The second was a set of beastly chemistry notes.

If the founders of Quizlet, Evernote, a couple MOOC platforms, Google docs, and YouTube were locked in a room, they would probably come out pitching something like Examtime.  Conclusion: Give it a try!  Worst case scenario, you can brush up on some trivia.

 

Buzzwords Decoded: Innovation

Innovation - Ideas Light Bulb Hatching

Definition: Merriam-Webster Dictionary

1:  the introduction of something new

2:  a new idea, method, or device :  novelty

 

How to Use it Incorrectly

If there were beauty pageants for buzzwords, ‘innovation’ would be the declining star whose career took a lethal hit because of overexposure.  Innovation is the introduction of a new idea or method, which requires creativity.  So saying that you are, “an innovative, results oriented, go-getter” (which is pretty much what everyone says on their resumes, cover letters, and online profiles) is a fantastic way to ensure that whomever is reading about you will have glazed-over eyes within five seconds.

As a rule of thumb, glazed-over eyes generally mean your document is about to get trashed.  An extremely shocked expression will also achieve the same ends.  An obscene action in the middle of the street to get attention for your school play is not innovative – it is obnoxious.  Try to play it off as innovation to someone conservative or older, and you’ll be bringing on the shock factor.

 

How to Use it Properly

Three words:  Back.  It.  Up.

The reason “innovative, results oriented, go-getter” sounds silly is because it is difficult to simply take a candidate’s word for it that these terms describe them.  If it is important that your potential employer know that you are innovative, be sure to refer to actions or activities you have been a part of that required you to be innovative and the results of said innovation.

If you are throwing in buzzwords for the sake of resume or cover letter computer scanners, you know they don’t belong.  Keep in mind that after the computer decides you have enough buzzwords, a real person will also read your documents.  So if it just looks like buzzword bogus, you still won’t get that interview!

 

Take Away

If you are going to claim that you are innovative, you should show it with your use of the word and design and format of your application.  Being boring and formulaic contradicts your claim and makes your other claims questionable as well.  Solution: Be creative and provide proof for every claim you make!

Which Harry Potter Character Are You?

Old glasses on a letter

J.K. Rowling had not introduced the Wizarding World to the Wonderful World of Online Learning by the time the last installment to the Harry Potter series came out, but still, it is interesting to think about how students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry would have used MOOCs.  Here are a few Harry Potter characters and how they might use MOOCs.  Check out which ones you relate to the most!

Harry Potter

Favorite Subject:  Defense Against the Dark Arts

Struggles In:  Potionslarge__5130526465

Having conjured a corporeal patronus at 13, Harry is clearly a smart kid – a bit distracted (for obvious reasons), but intelligent.  His biggest issue in the entire series is usually that he doesn’t know certain things about the Wizarding World due to his Muggle upbringing.  The best way to counter this?  Hogwarts is Here.  HIH is an online learning platform dedicated to all things magical.  If you’re muggleborn or a half-blood like Harry who grew up with muggles, this is the best way to introduce yourself to the Wizarding World.  Some would also suggest Gilderoy Lockhart’s bestsellers, but his fraudulent behavior was exposed during Harry’s second year so his sources are unreliable.

Hermione Granger

Favorite Subject:  Transfiguration

Struggles In:  Defense Against the Dark Arts

For people like Hermione, knowledge is power.  But when a certain crazy Hitler-esque dude comes knocking so he can rip his soul by killing you, practical instinct becomes essential as well.  Buried in her books, Hermione’s dueling skills are not quite up to her standards for every other subject.  She can use online learning to enroll in theory and lecture based classes, but use forums and skype to interact with her peers and get tips on how to improve her dueling skills.  MOOCs can provide Hermione with a diverse network of people with whom she can discuss her weaknesses and how to fix them.  Said network can also help set Ms. Granger back on the right path when “she needs to get her priorities straight” and a certain Ronald Weasley is not available to do so.

Ron Weasley

Favorite Subject:  Lunch

Struggles In:  Everything

Ron struggles with developing an interest in learning.  He has trouble with paying attention in pretty much all his classes, so MOOCs are perfect for him to find introductory or 101 level courses.  He can use these to develop a basic understanding of the skills he will learn in class before term begins so that he can learn the details at a quicker pace.  Some introductory psychology will likely be beneficial for Mr. Weasley as well – they may expand his emotional range (which is currently that of a teaspoon).

Neville Longbottommedium_5000467933

Favorite Subject:  Herbology

Struggles In:  Potions

Poor Neville – a beast at potions and the abilities of a grindylow in every other subject.  Why?  Fear.  As Neville proves at the end of the series, he is no less capable than Harry.  He is, however, sheltered and scared to a fault.  Taking introductory classes like Ron would be helpful to Neville, but also using MOOC certificates and portfolios (like those at learning.accredible.com) to increase his confidence would do wonders for his performance.

Severus Snape

Favorite Subject:  Potionslarge__5110510098

Struggles In:  Unknown

Severus Snape is simply a poor communicator who can’t make friends or develop relationships with his professors, so MOOCs are perfect for him!  He can use forums to interact with his peers and fellow professors to avoid speaking to them in person.  Snape proves himself to be among the most intelligent wizards introduced by Rowling time and time again, so MOOCs can prove to be a great way for him to slowly develop social skills as well.

Draco Malfoy

Favorite Subject:  Potions

Struggles In:  Care of Magical Creatureslarge__5097284050 (1)

For Care of Magical Creatures, Draco Malfoy really just needs some tutorials on how to care for the animals and especially on how to act around them.  While traditional MOOCs certainly would hurt him, simply using YouTube to develop smaller skills would be Malfoy’s best bet at using online learning to improve his Hogwart’s experience.

Albus Dumbledore

Favorite Subject:  Transfiguration

Struggles In:  Nothinglarge__8996773123

Dumbledore doesn’t really need a MOOC since he’s good at everything…he just needs to see this video.

Tom Marvolo Riddle

Favorite Subject:  Evil
Struggles In:  Not Being a Sociopath

small_2746504545If you can relate to Tom Riddle (AKA Lord Voldemort), then you should probably see a therapist immediately before you start a genocide.  But first, visiting a few anger management MOOCs and tutorials would be a good idea.  So would finding a tutorial on how to mend a ripped up soul.  Maybe by using stem cell research?

 

 

A Trelawney prophecy the day before this article was written predicted that the vast majority of you readers would be of muggle or muggleborn origin.  As such, for you all, Hogwarts Is Here is highly recommended.  Like Harry, you can catch up on the basics of the upcoming term’s classes and learn about the history of the Wizarding World.  Get started today!

Making it Easier to Finish That MOOC

Finish Line

It sounds like it would be pretty classy, telling an interviewer (or a date) that you’re studying English Literature & the Classics at Harvard.  Luckily, MOOCs allow you the luxury of saying just that (without having to pay any tuition!).

What definitely wouldn’t be so classy is saying you dropped out of the class after a week.  Of course, we all run into scheduling problems and there just aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything.  But that doesn’t mean you need to give up on your dreams of becoming a modern day Shakespeare!

Try ‘Always Open’ MOOCs

You go to a MOOC platform site and sign up for a computer science class that you need to take next semester at your home university.  You are excited because binary isn’t really your thing and this class will help you prepare for the next semester to make it easier for your to follow along during lectures.  Then, your boss calls and tells you you are scheduled to for dinner service every night next week.  You know you won’t be able to handle univeristy homework, school, and your new computer science MOOC at the same time.  With a heavy heart, you put the MOOC on the backburner and end up so behind, you have to give up on the 12-week MOOC altogether.

Now, imagine that this computer science MOOC was actually an open course that could be completed at any time.  You could turn in assignments whenever you wanted, could watch any of the lectures at any time, and could take as long as you needed for each project.  In this case, you could just start the class a week later than originally planned and not be at all behind.  Guess what?  There actually are great courses like this.  One is the CS50X Intro to Computer Science course from Harvard on edX.  It is an open class that is available for a full year and can be taken at any time within that time frame.  It is a highly praised MOOC with positive reviews from alumni and critics alike, and works around your schedule.

But wait…the offer doesn’t stop there!  What if you could have short open courses that take up a small amount of time and offer a whole lot of content?

Cut it Down

Platforms like Udemy and Khan Academy offer shorter tutorial-style classes that will probably not give you an in depth education in a particular subject area, but will provide a solid introduction.  You can complete such classes in a couple days or less, making them a great choice when your schedule is too busy for a long term class commitment.  You can cut down class time without halting your learning experience completely.

Cutting down on time commitment can also simply mean taking fewer MOOCs at once and being careful not to bite off more than you can chew.  The key to is plan a solid strategy.

Strategize

When you commit to earning a college degree with a particular major, you tend to plan out which classes you want to take and the best times to take them.  Knowing this in advance helps you plan your surrounding schedule in a way that it won’t impede on study time during a particularly tough term.

Doing the same with MOOCs is a great idea.  Planning out your time in 12-15 week blocks (a la semesters) will help you figure out when to take longer business core MOOCs and shorter ‘How to Make Marketing Plans’ tutorials so that you are able to learn everything you need within the time frame you want.

Apply these strategies, and you’ll be reading Shakespearean English in no time! Next you can make yourself sound even classier by adding foreign language and culture classes to your Accredible To-Learn List. Happy  Learning!

Why Iron Man and da Vinci Would Love MOOCs

Leonardo da Vinci

Growing up, I looked up to Iron Man. A lot. Obsessively, actually.

Why? Not because he was on T.V. or in movies. Not even because he was a Superhero.

I looked up to Iron Man because he was a self made hero. He wasn’t born with superpowers or a mutation that gave him abilities, he simply used his greatest strength (sheer intelligence and creativity) to give himself what nature hadn’t and used it to help people. It was the initiative he took even when he didn’t have to tBANGKOK - OCTOBER 16: Iron Man 3 figurine display of Tony Starkhat was inspiring to me.

Alas, Iron Man is a fictional character whose characteristics are exaggerated for drama. People just aren’t that smart or that heroic. Heroes don’t need to compare to Iron Man to be great, though. They just need to be regular people who use their abilities to become influencers. Here are 5 real people who reached their levels of success because of their own initiative, inspiration, and hard work – who taught themselves to be amazing at what they did.

Rabindranath Tagore

File:Rabindranath Tagore.jpgTagore was a Nobel Laureate who was highly regarded in his field of Literature. He had some formal education in law, but left his studies repeatedly in favor of English literature and music. He independently developed his expertise in the arts and returned home to India to become one of the most lauded Indian artists in history.

 

Ernest HemingwayFile:Ernest Hemingway, Paris, 1924.jpg

Although Hemingway was enchanted by the English language throughout high school, he left for World War I  shortly after graduating. He returned a hardened soldier and never ended up going to college (but went on to also win a Nobel prize). Instead, he became a journalist and began traveling. After getting married, he ended up in Paris where he met some of the city’s finest artists and writers and took the initiative to build his skills himself with just their guidance and a mountain of books.

 

Benjamin Franklin

Born to a poor family in Massachusetts, Franklin’s parents did not have the money needed for their son’s formal education. Instead, he grew up a curious child with a wide array of interests and a determination to become successful. He funneled these as an apprentice to his brother (a printer) and later as a young entrepreneur at 15 when he the colonies’ first independent newspaper. Eventually these interests were channeled into politics, and the rest is history.

 

Frederick Douglas

Douglas was born as a slave, Fredrick Douglass by j4p4n - Former slave turned amazing abolitionist public speaker, this wonderful oratory master deserves being remembered by history!  and so formal education was out of the question. He did, however, live with tolerant owners at the age of 12 and began learning the alphabet and basic reading skills. This was as far as the social norms allowed him to go, but he continued to teach himself to read and write in secrecy. Stubborn by nature and a born leader, Douglas went on to teach fellow slaves to read and write as well. This eventually led to the abolitionist sentiments he is famous for today.

 

Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo Da Vinci Self-portrait Outline by Merlin2525 - An Inkscape SVG Outline Bitmap Trace of Leonardo da Vinci famous self-portrait from the public domain image found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Leonardo_self.jpgDa Vinci’s formal training was as a painter, having apprenticed with some of the best of the
best. With a painter’s eye, da Vinci began applying his creativity and curiosity to other subjects including anatomy, geology, botany, and even music. Not only did his independent learning quench his curiosity, but it made his art more realistic and allowed him to use his creativity outside of the canvas as an inventor.

 

 

So do you want to be like Iron Man? Or Leonardo da Vinci? Well take a good solid look at what they had in common: they were both self-taught geniuses with little formal training and a lot of curiosity, creativity, and determination.

Become a self-taught genius yourself with MOOCs and online learning. Start your To-Learn List and find all the classes that will help you turn into a superhero. Or one of the greatest artists and scientists of all time. Either one would be pretty cool.