Skill development is a must for creative professionals who want to stay relevant, secure plum assignments, and earn a higher salary or promotion. But it can be a hefty investment. Here are five skill development options that won't cost you a lot of time or money.
Worried your skills will become obsolete? You’re not alone. Ninety-one percent of more than 800 in-house creative professionals surveyed for The Creative Team of the Future project said they are concerned about keeping their skills up to date and marketable as they advance in their career. And a majority (62 percent) of respondents said they don’t get enough professional development support from their employer.
What do these stats mean for creative professionals? For one, the onus is on you to get the skill development you need.
5 affordable skill development options
1. On-the-job training. Institutional knowledge is a big asset for any company, and cross-training is one way to take advantage of it. If you know colleagues who have mastered skills you’d like to learn, find out if they would be willing to give you a few pointers. Or, approach your manager about setting up something more formal, like a brown-bag series where employees can learn from experts from within or outside the company during the lunch hour. In addition to expanding your knowledge base, you’ll build camaraderie with your peers, which can boost morale, aid conflict-resolution and make solving problems easier.
2. Mentoring. Many creative professionals know the value of having a mentor, but it can be difficult to figure out how to find and approach one. A mentor can be someone in your department, from another department or outside your company. Think about the type of skills you want to acquire to help pinpoint prospective candidates.
3. Traditional classes. Getting a degree can be time consuming and expensive, but you shouldn’t shy away from academia. Find out if a nearby university offers a certificate program or allows students to take classes without pursuing a degree. If you want to learn a specific skill, like coding or UI design, consider enrolling in a workshop. Even attending a one-day training event can set you on the right course. Finally, don’t forget to inquire about your company’s tuition reimbursement policy.
4. E-learning. If you’re too busy to attend in-person classes or none are available in your city, e-learning can be a good alternative. This approach to skill development allows you to listen to lectures, chat with classmates, submit coursework and meet with instructors without leaving your home or office. Some companies, like CreativeLive, Envato Tuts+ and The Creative Group, even offer free courses. MOOCs, or massive open online courses, are another option for those who want to learn at their own pace. Sites like MOOClist.com offer MOOCs on everything from Photoshop to web development to design thinking.
5. Webinars and YouTube. If you’re truly strapped for time, consider registering for a webinar once or twice each quarter. Many are less than an hour and can be viewed live or on demand. You can even search YouTube at your leisure. Companies (like Lynda.com), organizations (like AIGA and TED Talks), and industry enthusiasts post informational and inspirational videos regularly.
Beyond skill development concerns, here are some other issues that are top of mind for in-house creatives: