One of the most common errors I've seen people make in technology is getting complacent with the knowledge they already master. It's cool to be the BEST in one single technology. Still, I always suggest keeping expanding your knowledge into multiple areas.
At the age of ten, I started to learn how to code by myself. Since then, I've been learning about many other things like product management, design, or marketing on my own. Apart from self-learning, I've also found it useful to take courses run by other professionals that are years ahead of me.
In this post, I want to convince you to invest money on learning, and share some tips about finding the right course. Let's go! But first, if you're interested in boosting up your skills, subscribe to my newsletter!
Should you spend money on online courses?
Self-taught learning is the most effective way to learn. Thanks to the internet, it has made outstanding knowledge accessible for free on YouTube, blogs, and other online courses.
However, self-taught learning requires time and patience. If you are disciplined, you can allocate two hours a day to do courses, read books, etc. However, when you have a highly demanding job, it gets trickier to balance all obligations (at least for me).
When I started to get paid as a programmer and a product manager, I knew that one key to grow and expand my knowledge was to learn from the best. However, the best people are not cheap, or they are too swamped to help you out individually. For me, online education is a fantastic way to get good knowledge in a very structured way.
When I was a student, I couldn't afford to pay two thousand bucks for a course, or even pay $100, so I mainly used free courses like Coursera or cheap subscriptions. Once I became a professional, I knew I should invest money in my education frequently.
If a $2000 course, gets you a promotion or a career change, investing in education pays off every dollar.
How to know what to learn
My number one advice is to find your weak spots and make a list of topics to learn. What are you missing to be the best at your current job? What are the skills that will take you to your next professional step?
Understanding your knowledge gaps sometimes gets tricky since "I don't know what I don't know." I find it useful to talk to my manager, colleagues, friends, and mentors to get an objective view of myself. From there, map them out to actionable learning gaps. As an example, lately, I've been focused on analytics.
I'm self-aware, and many times I realize what I'm missing; it's a matter of continuing to ask yourself the right questions. As an example, by the end of 2019, I knew I wanted to dive deep into product management. I started to read books like Inspired, and I even joined a Product Management course, which changed my life.
Allocating Budget for learning: How much?
If your company happens to have a learning budget, USE IT! If not, please don't let that get on your way to keep growing. My advice is that you dedicate some funding every month for learning purposes (courses, coaches, mentors, books, etc.).
How much? It will depend on your income and how much expenses you have. If you can, try to get from 100 euros to 500 euros every month. It doesn't mean that you need to consume the full budget every month, but you can still save that as if you intended to buy a house or a car (which I don't recommend, hehe).
Which courses and learning platforms do I recommend?
I've been trying many learning platforms and courses. If you want to learn about product management, Product Faculty is my favorite one (if you are interested, reach out, and I'll explain more). For learning about React, two years ago, I did the "React Nanodegree," which helped me a lot.
Apart from that, I always enjoy Coursera, Khan Academy, FreeCodeCamp, Code.org, Platzi (in Spanish), and many more.