11 free online courses you should take to be more successful in your career

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What's The Deal? 4 Ways to Learn Online for Free

Whether you're just stepping out of your cap and gown or your college graduation is a distant memory, it's never too late to learn something new.

This is especially true when it comes to mastering the skills necessary to have a successful career.

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From becoming more productive to communicating better, Coursera offers a number of courses which can help you hone skills that are useful to have in the working world. All are free and have paid versions that offer more extensive experiences.

Read on for some of the best, courtesy of Coursera's Chief Business Officer, Lila Ibrahim.

Learning How to Learn — University of California, San Diego

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If you've ever wanted to become better at anything, this course is where you should begin.

"Most professionals will change jobs and even fields several times throughout their careers, and even those who stay in the same job will need to adapt constantly to keep up with changes in technology and consumer behavior. In short, we all need to keep learning — and this course teaches you to do just that. It's a great mix of scientific principles and practical advice, and the techniques you'll learn are incredibly effective. It's also just fascinating and fun," Ibrahim says.

Next session: May 9 — June 12

Find it here »

Leading Teams — University of Michigan

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Leading people is complicated, especially when you only learn how from trial and error and observing others.

"This course does a great job of equipping learners with concrete tools and strategies for establishing roles within a team, aligning individual and team goals, managing conflict, and building trust," Ibrahim says. "It's an outstanding resource for current and aspiring managers, and for anyone who just wants to be a better team player."

Next session: May 9 — June 12

Find it here »

What Is Social? — Northwestern University

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"Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have evolved to be much more than just social networks — they're major business tools with real impact and power," Ibrahim says.

This course, taught by a marketing strategy firm CEO, provides a detailed overview of the role social media plays in modern marketplaces and guides learners through the process of building a thoughtful professional persona on social networks.

Next session: May 9 — June 12

Find it here »


Mastering Data Analysis in Excel — Duke University

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Data is vital to success when it reduces uncertainty about financially important outcomes.

"The instructors use real-world case studies to illustrate common modeling techniques in Excel, so you'll get plenty of hands-on experience with practical business tools," Ibrahim says.

Next session: May 2 — June 19

Find it here »

Introduction to Financial Accounting — The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

If "assets," "liabilities," and "equity" sound like a foreign language to you, then this course is a must. "A basic understanding of finance will help you succeed in any job, whether you're working for a big company, running a nonprofit, or starting your own business," Ibrahim says.

Taught by an accounting professor, this introductory course will help you understand and interpret the three most common financial statements — the income statement, balance sheet, and statement of cash flows — in the context of real business scenarios.

Next session: May 16 — June 19

Find it here »

Work Smarter, Not Harder: Time Management for Personal & Professional Productivity — University of California, Irvine

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Taught by a seasoned project management professional, this course is a practical guide for how professionals can juggle multiple tasks and priorities on a daily basis.

"The awareness, organization, goal-setting, scheduling, and delegation techniques that she provides will be helpful to anyone, in any field, at any stage of their career," Ibrahim says.

Next session: Always available

Find it here »

Leadership Communication for Maximum Impact: Storytelling — Northwestern University

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Good communication skills are critical for every working professional to master.

Though "this course focuses specifically on empowering managers to communicate in a way that improves clarity, inspires talent, and drives impact," Ibrahim says, "it will be valuable to anyone who is interested in communicating more effectively and building an authentic, trustworthy, and compelling professional narrative."

Next session: May 2 — June 5

Find it here »

Introduction to Search Engine Optimization — University of California, Davis

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Search engine ranking is important for anyone who wants to make an impact with their digital presence — as Ibrahim points out, there's about a 70% chance you don't read past the first five results you get from a Google search.

This course provides a more comprehensive introduction to SEO and gives you a few simple strategies you can use to make your product or service rank higher in online search.

Next session: May 2 — June 5

Find it here »

The Data Scientist's Toolbox — Johns Hopkins University

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"This first course in Johns Hopkins University's Data Science Specialization provides a beginner-friendly, nuts-and-bolts introduction to just a few essential concepts and tools for aspiring data scientists," Ibrahim says.

This is a course that will teach you how to ask the right questions, manipulate data sets, and create visualizations to communicate results. "You'll get a confidence boost from seeing how simple the basics can be, and you'll probably be inspired to learn more," Ibrahim says.

Next session: May 2 — June 5

Find it here »

Introduction to HTML5 — University of Michigan

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"There are lots of online resources and tools for learning web design or creating a website, but most either require some background knowledge or provide no visibility into the actual code," Ibrahim says. "This course helps true novices who want to create fully custom web pages and need a step-by-step introduction."

This course mixes theory, with information like what actually happens when you click on a link on a webpage, and practice, giving learners hands-on experience building their first simple web page from scratch.

Next session: May 9 — June 5

Find it here »

Accounting Analytics, The Wharton School — University of Pennsylvania

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This course teaches you how to translate accounting data and highlights how this can provide insight into consumer behavior, corporate strategy, and risk management, "a skill that's increasingly important given the overwhelming amount of data available to businesses today," Ibrahim says.

Next session: May 2 — June 5

Find it here »


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