Reflections on a Year of Self-Guided Learning

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During 2021 I invested much effort toward self-guided learning. Propelled by objectives to explore new career avenues and free time the COVID pandemic provided, I sought to enhance my skills in programming, data science methods and technologies and marketing techniques. As I proceeded in discovering affordable resources and compiling these into a custom curriculum, I often found my time working through these materials to be a high point of my day, even forgoing evenings of Netflix to complete tutorials well into late night hours.

By the end of the year, the set of courses I’d completed was quite extensive and I found it enlightening to chronicle my learning journey into the following list, organized by topic and inclusive of links to the source materials. I encourage you to review the course pages and share your feedback on resources you’ve found helpful in your own learning!

Principles of Programming and Computer Science

Prior to delving into any specific platform or coding language, it can be helpful to gain an understanding of the underlying logic powering each of these tools. Technical and non-technical users alike can benefit from developing an intuition of how technologies they interact with daily function and operate, and these are some great primers with which to start:

Principles of Data Science and Analytics

I wrote in a previous post about these courses offering a conceptual overview into data science and analytics, available here. The materials will be valuable to anyone seeking insight from the expanding network of data points intersecting all components of our lives:

Python for Data Science and Analytics

In July I completed a course in Python for Data Analytics as part of the Southern Connecticut State University BioPath Bootcamp Series. The course was offered free and open to all through a joint initiative of Southern Connecticut State University, New Haven Innovation Collaborative and CTNext. I highly recommend following universities and nonprofits within your community for offerings like these which are cost-effective and provide opportunities to build connections within fields of interest. The bootcamp’s synchronous learning environment provided the support necessary to overcome preliminary obstacles in my independent learning, enabling me to move forward with more advanced courses like those in Dataquest’s Python Basics for Data Analysis series.

Marketing and Web Analytics

Grow with Google and Content Marketing Programs, TechFWD Digital Skills Navigator, Stamford Partnership

Like Python for Data Analytics, I found both TechFWD offerings through a community development organization, writing about my experience with the Content Marketing program in this previous post. The Grow with Google series provided a helpful complementary perspective, particularly where the courses’ materials aligned with a focus on search engine optimization and organizing online content for prime traffic and visibility.

Publisher’s M.O. Masterclass, Publio

I was offered the chance to pilot this course developed by a marketing services firm I connected with through the TechFWD Content Marketing program (whose curriculum they also facilitated). Their masterclass builds upon that curriculum (available free via HubSpot and Semrush academies), introducing their signature “North Star” methodology and providing templates for applying concepts from both courses toward participants’ own unique business objectives. It was great having the opportunity to navigate the course in its development stages and provide direct feedback to be incorporated into its subsequent iterations.

As we begin a new year, I look forward to continuing my professional learning and chronicling my journey accordingly. I invite you to join me in thinking through your own educational goals and work toward achieving these in 2022!

Continuing the Learning Journey: Navigating the TechFWD Content Marketing Program

One of my intentions in writing is to showcase valuable resources I’ve discovered within my own professional development. For the first of these features, I compiled a list of recommended online courses for those interested in fostering understanding of data and programming. This next post highlights my experience completing a sequence of content marketing coursework through a program offered within my community earlier this year, whose material you can access free courtesy of providers HubSpot and Semrush Academies. Happy learning!

HubSpot inbound methodology framework
The inbound methodology pioneered by HubSpot and outlined in its Academy coursework.

My professional journey has led full circle toward arenas of digital content development explored previously in my career. As I’ve sought to focus on opportunities within marketing and consumer analysis, I’ve realized a need to refresh my knowledge of how such domains have been and continue to be shaped by online platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the countless others that continue to emerge. Like many fellow Millennials, I was an enthusiastic early adopter of social media, but a combination of security concerns, polarizing content and overall fatigue led me to largely abandon these channels in subsequent years. As I’ve re-entered these online spaces with professional intentions, I’ve sought to do so with the guidance of best practices for navigating these often murky waters.

It was with these aims that, upon learning of a month-long Content Marketing program provided free by my city, I jumped at the opportunity to complete the four-week curriculum outlining the inbound marketing framework and its applications within social media, email campaigns and search engine optimization. The material covered is available free via the HubSpot and Semrush Academy platforms, and I highly recommend it to anyone working in or seeking to work in these arenas. If the thought of completing four courses feels overwhelming, start with HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing course to develop a conceptual framework, then focus on corresponding material related to the tools and techniques most aligned to your current specialty, interests and/or goals. You can even complete an exam at the end of each course to earn credential-enhancing certifications.

The coursework was immensely beneficial for the knowledge gained, much of which I’ve utilized in developing this site. The TechFWD program provided added benefits of a shared learning environment and opportunities to network and build relationships, and I hope communities worldwide will launch similar initiatives and find this perspective valuable in pursuing such endeavors.