Working during the era of COVID-19: Online Professional Development Opportunities

This blog is part of a series by the Workforce Development staff at St. Francis House.

Professional development, simply put, is maintaining or learning skills that are specific to helping you keep and grow your knowledge base as it applies to your current or future career path.

Traditionally there are multiple avenues where one can access training courses, before COVID-19 many workshops and classes were held in person at university settings or adult education centers or libraries, in addition to online courses.  As we continue to navigate COVID-19, particularly physical distancing, for the time being, educational opportunities are almost exclusively offered online. The experience is of course, different from live interaction with teachers and fellow participants but the information is the same and often can be easier to schedule your day with self-pacing and taking courses at a time convenient for you!

Upgrading skills related to employment search  Whether you are suddenly out of work, or have been looking for a career shift before the pandemic, a good use of your time is to learn new tools to market yourself in the best way possible. MassHire, the umbrella under which all Massachusetts career centers fall under, has many online webinars and seminars that you can take for free.

Look here to find a list of all MassHire career centers.

You can look any of the events calendars on any MassHire center website for potential online seminars, a great opportunity to take a class online that you would have usually have to travel for! Examples of classes on offer in June at MassHire Downtown Boston include online webinars in Personal Branding, Tips from HR “Get that Job”, Virtual/Video Interviewing and many more!

Improving computer and technology skills  Regardless of the type of career you are aiming to have, it is highly likely that you will need to use some form of computerized technology! Most roles assume some level of the widely used Microsoft Office program, and many companies have specific databases for their work. Company-specific means that you will receive training once you begin a role, but it doesn’t hurt to make sure you learn basic computer skills or progress to a new level if you already have a basic understanding.

Boston Public Library has a terrific page on computer and technology classes as a place to start, including typing, general tech skills and software specific: https://www.bpl.org/computer-classes/

Online learning for personal interests/hobbies/ knowledge  Don’t forget learning for the joy of it! Perhaps you are interested in history, art, or learning a new language. Learning about subjects that speak to your hobbies outside of the workplace can help increase feelings of well being and even help your job search. How? You will have something interesting, personal yet appropriate to share during an interview if the moment arises. Some places to search for free courses:

Good luck with your professional development learning journey!

As always: through email, phone, and video, SFH is continuing to provide workforce development services virtually. We look forward to meeting you if we haven’t already, for guests not already assigned to a staff member but in need of assistance, there are a few ways to contact our team: