9 Classes to Learn New Skills for Work and Fun

January 12, 2016

9 Classes to Take to Learn New Skills for Work and FunAt Peaceful Dumpling, we always talk about growing and self-development. If you’re feeling particularly ready to expand, have you thought about taking courses? Lately I’ve been inspired by real-life friends and family who have either quietly or openly taken courses. Some are for specific professional goals, and others are more for personal fulfillment and curiosity, but I’m so impressed, either way.

For example: one friend of a friend was a literary-minded English major and worked as an SAT tutor post-grad, but also learned coding on the side and is now making great income as an in-house developer at a start-up. A scientist I know took an online course on finance for a certificate, which will be crucial in case of a possible transition. My dad, even, was telling me about all the classes he wants to take at a local college, including landscape/gardening, digital photography including Photoshop, and woodworking. (I’m so proud!).

In this way, self-motivated learning doesn’t have to be for a specific kind of person or life stage. It can be for anyone, can be as serious or casual as one feels like, and can be online or in person. But the important thing is that it keeps you flexible, curious, discovering new things about the world and yourself, and uh, that you learn something.

Without further ado, here are some class ideas to keep you growing.

1. Java Programming: An Intro to Software Specialization (Duke University; Coursera): Have you ever thought, wouldn’t it be useful one way or other to know some coding skills? Why not put that thought into action and take an introductory class. You’ll start by making web pages with HTML and CSS, and go from there. The total pricing for this four-course program is just $395. (So much cheaper than it was at actual college, but just expensive enough that you don’t want to give up in the middle. Perfect.)

2. Web Design for Everybody (The University of Michigan; Coursera): This is also going into coding, but from the perspective of creating “responsive” (meaning, in keeping with current standards of mobile/tablet/desktop integrated design) websites. By the way, did you know I self-designed Peaceful Dumpling? This kind of course would have come in so handy before I started just DIYing it! Mary also designed her own beautiful blog, Bisou du Jour. $385.

3. Scandinavian Film and Television (The University of Copenhagen; Coursera): Okay, you probably won’t write this down on your resume–but not everything you invest in has to be for professional reasons, at least directly. One of my favorite classes in college was French cinema. Does learning all about Ingmar Bergman and Lars von Trier, etc, sound interesting to you?

4. The Fiction of Relationship (Brown University; Coursera): Be still, my beating heart. This course description looks written for me. Read 10 masterpieces from Kafka to Faulkner to Bronte to Woolf, and have your eyes be opened to the nature of relationship to self and world.

5. Finance courses (various institutions): courses in finance can be beneficial for few different reasons. If you have zero background in finance and have only completely unrelated professional experience (like yours truly), taking one Coursera course on intro to finance isn’t going to turn you into a six-figure earning I-banker. However, if you are in a field that often crosses over into the finance industry, such as physics/Ph.D.+ level sciences or law, you might well benefit from trying it out. Also, some courses are beneficial for anyone to know, like how to manage your personal finances, or just general intro to world financial landscape.

6. Aromatherapy (NY Institute of Aromatherapy): Become a certified aromatherapist after completing this 40-hour course in NYC. This is a chance for you to really explore that daydream of launching your own organic, natural, vegan beauty line. $1,000. (It’s not cheap to become certified in anything! Think of it as career investment).

7. Yoga teacher training (various): you know you’ve thought about it about a million times. There are so many ways to do yoga teacher training, and as many reasons–you don’t have to want to be a full-time yoga teacher to do this.

8. Healthy cooking classes (various): This can be as serious and long-term, or as fun and short-term as you wish. Some recommended courses are: Kripalu Nutrition and Cooking Immersion at beautiful Kripaulo retreat in the Berkshires in MA (with credits for registered dieticians and nurses); cooking classes at Exhibit C in TriBeca in NYC, which combine elements of hot social mingling with healthy, fashionable, vegetable-oriented cuisine. Also try looking into your local vegan restaurants and bakeries as they often offer cooking classes! 🙂

9. Foreign languages (various): You can’t talk about post-grad learning without mentioning languages!! I have heard that the best way to learn a new language outside of a classroom is Rosetta Stone. I know, hardly seems possible that this is the best thing out there, but it’s proven, guys. But feel free to explore other options, like podcasts, Meetup groups, or even hiring a private tutor.

Are you interested / excited about any of these? Let me know about your ideas! 🙂 


Photo: Mark Spiske via Unsplash

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Juhea is the founder and editor of Peaceful Dumpling and the author of bestselling novel Beasts of a Little Land. Follow Juhea on Instagram @peacefuldumpling, @juhea_writes and Pinterest.


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