Competition for jobs is fierce in today’s economy. According to Forbes, a typical job posting attracts 118 applicants! With this in mind, jobseekers need to be proactive in seeking opportunities to learn and refine skills. Last week, I attended an Economic Measurement Seminar organized by the National Association of Business Economists (NABE). It took place at the tony Four Seasons in Washington, DC. The cost of attendance for government employees was $475. Did I mention I went for free? Instead of sneaking past security, I got a scholarship from the NABE Foundation. The application took one hour. This is just a small example of the tons of development opportunities out there if you put a little effort.
Here’s another—I’m subscribed to The National Economists Club’s (NEC) listserv. Earlier this month, NEC announced “The Bridge for Tomorrow” project, a fully funded short-term study tour in Japan! Winners will get flights, transportation costs, all meals, travel insurance AND entrance fees to “special attractions.” The only reason I’m not applying is because I don’t have enough leave, but I digress.
The point is this: there are many opportunities out there to better yourself. Are you willing to put in the work? If so, here are four hacks to land job-related training:
Seek scholarship opportunities to industry events
Joining the mailing lists of relevant professional organizations will expose you to upcoming events. More times than not, companies allot scholarships for potential attendees who cannot afford the registration price. In applying, make sure to link the event with your ongoing professional development.
If scholarships aren’t available, contact the organizers and ask if you can volunteer in exchange for free admission. Many conferences rely on helpers to run its registration booths, manage crowds, etc. The caveat is that you won’t have the full experiences of an attendee.
It’s the Internet
There are thousands of resources to grow your skills online! Some of the better known knowledge repositories are Coursera and Khan Academy. They offer thousands of classes from top universities for free. Also, take advantage of paid subscribers’ free trial. Lynda.com, for example, offers a 10-day trial. Bonus: College/universities pay for subscriptions; as an alumnus, you may still reap these benefits with your old login info. If that doesn’t work, check your local library. (Ed note – also visit GovLoop Academy!)
“Attend” free webinars
As an economist, I’m always looking to grow my knowledge on data. Webinars are a great tool to learn during work hours. In my experience, supervisors are happy in allowing employees participate in job-related webcasts. Just recently, I listened in on an installation of the Census Bureau’s Investigating Economic Indicators Webinar Series.
In the information age, there are no excuses to let your skills stagnate. Get off of social media and get to learning! You’ll be glad you did when it’s time to apply for that new job.
Wander Cedeño is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.
Great tips. This won’t be relevant to everyone, but what we’ve also found useful is attending industry functions as “press,” since I work for a publication written for the public sector. This allows for government events to gain additional traction in the industry, and for my own professional development as well. The bottom line is that you’re certainly right that there are lots of opportunities out there if you do a little digging!
Great ideas! So relevant in these days of agency cutbacks, which always seems to include training. Thanks!
Useful tips! I’ve done several webinars (for free or much lower cost) when we don’t have the funding for me to attend / travel in person, or (due to recent changes in conference attendance for government employees) when I can’t get approval in a timely manner. An advantage of many webinars is the ability to access the information again at a later date.
Check your local library to see if they offer a free subscription to Lynda. I know the DC Public Library has access to it.
This is super! Thanks so much for the info. I had heard of Coursera before but not Khan Academy. I do a lot of training through edX, which has an unbelievable repertoire of classes one can take for free or pay a minimal amount to get a certificate.