Tag Archives: experiences

Enhance Your Career and Employability Skills

The latest course I’m following on Coursera is the University of London’s Enhance Your Career and Employability Skills.

During my last degree I already took a semester-long series of workshops on career development and how to look for a job. Those workshops were packed with tons of useful information. At the time, though, I didn’t have a whole lot of hours to dedicate to the workshops and the follow-up actions.

So, when I saw this course, I thought it would be a good motivator to dig up my old notes and perhaps learn some new things.

Looking at the outline of the course, there aren’t many topics that weren’t covered in my previous set of workshops. The outline covers the following topics: (1) What do you want? – Self awareness, (2) What can you offer? – Skills awareness, (3) Are you ready to find success? – Career Readiness, (4) How do you express yourself? – Articulating your experiences, (5) What impact do you make? – Making a good impression in person, and (6) How do you build fruitful relationships? – Networking online and in person.

My plan is mostly to listen to the video lectures when I have some time, looking back at my notes from previous workshops and taking some actions. So far, I like the lectures. They are cut up into chunks of 10-15 minutes, so you can always listen to one or two during a break.

Why would you want to take this course? Job-seekers seem to be their main target audience. Even if you are not at the moment looking for employment, this can be a good course to hone your skills of presenting and marketing yourself. It could teach you to figure out what you want, how to present the skills you’ve already got, and so on.

Most people will think: Oh, I can already do that. But it’s not that obvious. Things that seem obvious or basic to you, might be very advanced to others! This is true for a lot of things in life. Here is a story of my own.

I speak Mandarin Chinese. The highest level I studied was on advanced level. I can communicate with people on the streets, I can read pretty advanced stuff (I’m reading a literary novel right now – 活着 by 余华), I learnt both the traditional and simplified character systems, and I even learnt how to decipher 2000-year old classical Chinese. In the past two years I’ve let it slide, a lot, but my language skills are still pretty awesome compared to those of other people!

In the past, I have caught myself thinking that it wasn’t a very special skill to speak Chinese. The reason for this silly thought? Having studied a Sinology degree and done a year abroad in China, I know tons of people who speak Chinese and quite a lot who speak it much better than me. So, in my group of friends and acquaintances, it’s a fairly common skill to have. Compared to them, I’m just average. But I’m forgetting the millions of people who don’t speak Chinese. Compared to them, I’m pretty special.

So, moral of the story? You can always learn more about yourself and all the awesome things you can do, and, most importantly, how to sell all that awesomeness to others.

Learning HTML & CSS at Codecademy

Image from Flickr by https://www.flickr.com/photos/tacker/
Image from Flickr by Markus Tacker

A long time ago, I spent a lot of time building websites from scratch using HTML, CSS and some basic PHP commands. A few weeks ago I discovered Codecademy and decided to try it out. After almost 8 years, my knowledge got a bit rusty and I needed a refresher course. I started with the HTML & CSS course.

The interface of the website is beautiful and (not unimportant!) very easy to work with. On the left side, there is a bar with explanations, examples and an assignment. In the middle you input your code and on the right you will see the output of your code in a separate screen. The latter is especially exciting as you can directly see what the effects of certain commands are. This is really great for beginners, I imagine.

All in all, the HTML & CSS course got me reacquainted with an old hobby of mine. (I even wrote this post in the HTML tab in WordPress!) It was a lot of fun. I’m now learning more about PHP and later on I’m going to tackle JavaScript.

I can really recommend the HTML & CSS course, especially for beginners who would like a little web literacy. A little knowledge of HTML can go a long way!

What are your experiences with Codecademy?