Before joining the University of Reading as a Careers Consultant, I spent 25 years working in the High Tech sector for Microsoft and Apple. As such, I retain a lot of industry contacts and do like to keep on top of developments in that space.
Many leading IT companies understand that in order to attract the best talent, they need to invest in the development of their employees. Many of them offer free online courses and certification programs to help employees and even non-employees upskill and stay current in their field. For students, this is an incredible opportunity to gain valuable knowledge and skills that will set them apart in the job market. Not only will they be able to showcase their knowledge on a CV or during an interview, but they will also have the chance to apply what they have learned in real-world projects.
A recent LinkedIn post from a Community Lead at Microsoft UK highlighted a range of FREE workshops and exam vouchers for a range of content areas (free to all students with an ac.uk email address, but follow their link for full details and see relevant dates over the next 30 days). It got me thinking about a range of related content I had seen elsewhere on a similar theme.
Beyond those training options, you have other Microsoft products including PowerBI, I’m sure many readers will be aware of TikTok content creators taking on topics such as Excel, and there is a whole world of Google courses including a robust Digital Marketing certification, with Amazon Web Services (who were at our Autumn Careers Fair) also recently announcing free resources to build cloud computing skills.
To share one practical example, I recalled a discussion in a wholly unrelated US podcast series called ChooseFI (to be found on your platform of choice), where they had a couple of guest speakers sharing about how they had trained themselves in the use of SalesForce software (the number one customer relationship management platform, or CRM, platform), leveraging sandbox development sites to practice their skills and practically demonstrate how they had real experience that ultimately led to a new career. See here for a wider shownotes page on what SalesForce is, and the podcast episode here.
It would be remiss of me to not mention some of our own Digital Tools that can be found linked from our Careers pages. LinkedIn Learning as just one example is free to all students and covers a wide range of technical and soft skills that can boost your subject knowledge or earn certificates that could be added to your profile.
It’s of course a balancing act, between focussing on your degree, on your future career plans, as well as continuing to develop yourself in other way, but I hope this has shined a light on a range of other resources that are available to you outside of your primary studies. These could enable you to stand out in a crowded job market, or may support any side hustles you are considering.
Jeff Anderson, Careers Consultant.