Whether you’ve left the workforce or are keen to switch fields, upskilling ensures lifelong learning for mamas whatever their field or passion. Here’s why it rocks, and where you can go to start.
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
– Mahatma Gandhi
Lifelong learning is a powerful concept. It’s suitable for everyone at all stages of life, but I feel like it’s especially important for mamas who have taken time out of the workforce to take care of the kids full time. This stage of life often brings some upheaval in terms of life goals and career direction and using the time to ‘upskill’ can be a great way to:
- Get clarity on a new direction
- Feel like you are still ‘in the game’
- Keep up to date with new technology
- Plug the ‘gap’ in your resume
- Experiment with new fields and interests
- Meet new people and open up new networks
- Keep your curiosity spark alive
I would define upskilling as either learning an additional skill outside your previous skill area, or honing in on one part of your career/work sphere that you want to excel even more at. In our digital world there are an enormous number of resources available for online learning so it can be a challenge to even know where to start – here are a few places for you to begin:
Specialities: Arts & Humanities, Data Science, Business, Math & Logic, Personal Development
Coursera describes itself as ‘an education platform that partners with top universities and organizations worldwide, to offer courses online for anyone to take.’ Their course catalogue is extensive, and they also partner with two top universities in Singapore, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) & National University of Singapore (NUS). They use a lot of video content and interactive quizzes as well as peer-graded assessments, and give you the chance to connect with fellow learners and instructors.
Why not look at:
Buddhism and Modern Psychology, offered by Princeton University
Coaching Skills for Managers, offered by the University of California
Creative Writing, offered by Wesleyan University
Introduction to Finance: Valuation and Investing Specialization, offered by the University of Michigan
How much: Costs vary by course; some are free, most are around US$79
Specialities: Leadership & Organizational change, Cultural transformation, Digital strategies & capacity building, Innovation & Creativity, Business Development
Hyper Island describes itself as ‘designing learning experiences that challenge companies and individuals to grow and stay competitive in an increasingly digitised world.’ It is well established, having been open for over 15 years. They have an online digital marketing course, and then a mix of low-contact, part-time courses and short, in-house, intense workshops.
Why not look at:
Online Digital Marketing Course
How much: Costs vary depending on length
Specialities: Data Science, Web Development, Software Engineering
Udacity has short, intensive courses to be done on your own time and also includes a number of free courses. They have some great entry-level web development courses and their offer a very wide range of software development courses for different platforms and technologies.
Why not try:
Beginner Level iOS App Development
Intro to the Design of Everyday Things (free!)
Intro to Data Analysis (free!)
How much: Many classes are free; “nanodegree” programs start from US$199/month
Specialities: Business, Software, Technology and Creative Skills
LinkedIn affiliate Lynda.com has been in the business since 1995 and offers a wide range of courses. They work on a membership system – starting around $25USD per month for a month-to-month subscription, which gives you unlimited access to their library. They have a lot of practical, skills training courses, like 3D design, accounting or photoshop skills.
Why not try:
Fundamental Communication Skills
How much: From $25 USD per month for a monthly subscription
Specialities: Business. Culinary, Design, DIY, Photography and many other creative skills.
Skillshare in another membership-based site. They describe themselves as a “global learning community for creators” and are priced from US$8 per month. Their catalogue is huge and focuses on creative skills, taught over a short time period.
Why not try:
Modern Calligraphy: Getting Started
DIY Body Products: Create an all Natural Lotion Bar
How much: Try it for free; premium membership is US$8 per month
I myself studied an English degree, which has now morphed into a creative writing degree, through a New Zealand University on and off, very slowly, over the last 6 years (due to finish next year!). If you are not from Singapore, it could be useful to look at universities in your home country and investigate what their distance learning options they have.
Studying can help to keep your mind curious and open. It can force you to take time away from the daily grind to think outside the box. Often the presence of deadlines is a useful push towards getting things done! Setting some boundaries around study time and being realistic about the time you have available can be important factors for making the experience a success.
For some inspiration, check out Ben Dunlap’s renowned TED Talk: The Life-long Learner.