Been out of school for a while? Thinking about graduate programs? As yet another school year comes to an end, some of you may be thinking about going back to school. With skills and job-needs changing every year, it may not be a bad idea to keep your skills updated by taking some online courses, certificates, or even local workshops. Going to conferences and networking events will also help you keep your knowledge and expertise fresh and useful. Here are four skills you may want to consider sharpening:

Data analysis

Data science is one of the hottest fields right now, but even if you don't want to be a data scientist, it's useful to be savvy with how to use data (and how not to use data) to support your bottom line. To stay up-to-date, look for programs that include training in R programming, data ethics, data visualization, data mining, statistical analysis, and machine learning. There are plenty of free, online, and in-person bootcamps and courses, as well as ones with credit-bearing degrees and regionally-approved, accredited certificates. Look for ones that use real-world data sets, business cases, and hands-on, interactive exercises.

Design thinking

Design thinking has become a trendy term since it originated from IDEO. It can be a useful approach to any business needs--even if your startup isn't directly tied to design. Design thinking is about using multiple perspectives to approach complex problems, as well as building empathy for clients and customers. To get trained as a "design thinker" look for courses that have students work on real-world projects, use rapid prototyping tools, and mix research and theory with practice.   

Artificial intelligence

Just like with data science, the term "artificial intelligence" seems to be everywhere. Even if you don't have a background in technology or programming, it would be useful to understand how artificial intelligence can support (or even transform) your business. Look for courses that help you learn key concepts behind how software can process language, images, and video, be used to make predictive models, and interact intelligently with your customers. There are plenty of free online courses, or ones that are more business- or technology-focused.

Storytelling

You may think that storytelling is not necessary for your business, but the best leaders know how to tell great, inspirational stories about how their product or service will help their customers. After all, people are naturally drawn to engaging stories and visual experiences. They also know how that storytelling takes practice and hard work and taking a class can help sharpen those skills. Storytelling for business courses help you translate ideas into experience and stories, shape your story for different audiences and platforms, and practice messaging for everything from presentations to events.

There are also plenty of other skills to learn. Consider checking out courses on the ethics of technology, socio-emotional skills such as empathy, and ones on cryptocurrency and dropshipping.

Published on: May 16, 2018