This piece was written by freelance writer Priyanka Mogul

If you’re looking for an internship or a job, you don’t need to be hold how competitive the market has become. Employers are all looking for people with experience – but how do you get that experience when no one is willing to give you a chance? It’s a catch-22 situation that we have all faced.

But online learning has begun to rapidly change the way we develop and learn new skills. There are thousands of courses now available on the Internet – including many free ones – which allow you to develop expertise in entirely new areas that you may not have previously considered. This means that you can learn skills from marketing to coding from the comfort of your bedroom – and use them to get ahead in your applications. Some of them even come with a professional certification.

If you’re studying, this is the best time to start exploring these courses. You can do them in between classes, or even over the holidays. These courses are also great for those who are considering a career switch.

You might have heard of OpenLearnedX and Coursera – these are still some of the best websites to learn new skills and gain information in new areas. It’s definitely worth checking out their list of courses to see if any are suitable for you. But there’s also a whole range of new players in the online learning market.

We’ve round up 11 of the best (free) online courses that we think will give you crucial skills to boost your career prospects – no matter what industry you choose to go into.

  1.  FutureLearn: Hard and soft skills
    FutureLearn has been around for a while and their catalogue of courses is one of the most extensive. You can learn everything from business and media to literature and history. It’s like enrolling in a condensed version of a university course that you never got to be on.
    They also have a fantastic range of study skills for those who are still at college or university. You can learn how to develop research projects, write essays, and even dig deeper into the art of applying for jobs and mastering job interviews.
  2. Google GarageDigital skills to grow your business and career
    Even if you don’t want to go into marketing, Google Garage can give you the essential skills for an increasingly digitised world.
    Learn how to build your presence on the internet – so that you can effectively control what potential employers see about you – as well as how to build your business online, make the most of digital advertising, and come to grips with the basics of social media and data insights. If you have any entrepreneurial plans at all, this is a great place to start.
  3. AlisonGet certified in a range of topics
    Alison is great if you’re looking to get a professional certification in a short amount of time. Most of their courses have an average complete time of 2-3 hours and they range from health and the humanities to IT and business. You can even go one step further and get a diploma in a particular topic in just 8-10 hours.
  4. Khan AcademyUniversity admissions, career development and personal finance
    The Khan Academy can teach you almost anything – and all you need is YouTube. Brush up on your knowledge of physics concepts, learn computer animation, or gain some crucial life skills with an insight into paying for university, taxes, and investment.
    It’s a particularly great platform for those of us who wish we had paid more attention during our A Levels – and also great when you need a quick overview of a topic that everyone else seems to be discussing.
  5. BBC AcademyJournalism and media skills
    Even if you have no interest in joining the media industry, the BBC Academy has some fantastic content that can help you spread your organisation’s message to a wider audience (a useful skill for everyone today). Their courses have previously looked at the core skills for radio, as well as the principles of filming needed when you go out to shoot your first video.
    Having a grasp on these sort of media-related skills can be a huge advantage for any company, allowing them to produce multimedia content in order to grab their customers’ attention.
  6. iTunes ULearn on the go
    For the extra-busy people among us, iTunes U is a great place to learn as you’re on the move. Their educational videos and podcasts have contributors from universities, museums and media organisations, which you can download to your computer or mobile. Learn how to develop iOS apps or start a start-up with Stanford University, or brush up on your philosophy with Yale University. You can even download books directly onto your device.
  7. CodecademyLearn to code
    Codecademy believes that anyone who knows how to read can learn how to code. You might not have considered coding before, but it’s increasingly becoming a highly demanded skill across a number of sectors. Based on your reasons for wanting to learn how to code – whether it’s for web development, programming or data science – Codecademy has tailored courses to set you on the right path. Most of their free courses take less than 11 hours to complete, and if you’re really looking to dig deeper into the material, you can subscribe for less than £13 per month.
  8. Udacity: Make Your First iPhone App / Google Developers Training for Android
    Apps are everywhere. Whether you’re working for an organisation that needs an app or are planning to start your own business one day, learning how to make apps can be a huge boost to your CV. If you’re looking to cater to the iPhone masses, Udacity has a great free online course that takes you through building an app that records a conversation between you and your friend – and then turns your voices into the voice of Darth Vader or a chipmunk. While that might not be your idea of a useful app, it’s a fun way to learn how to use Apple’s programming language, Swift. For the Android lovers among us, Google Developers Training has a range of courses available to suit individual levels – and, as a bonus for your CV, you can get certified at the end of the course.
  9. Google AI: Machine Learning
    Machine Learning is being talked about everywhere these days – and what better way to make sure you’re in the game than by learning with Google, one of the leaders in the industry? Based on what you’re learning for, Google AI has a number of courses available – from practical introductions to best practices.
  10. DuolingoBoost your CV with an additional language
    Languages is something that employers love – particularly as industries become more globalised. Duolingo is a great app to learn a new language, allowing you to take lessons wherever you are. It also sends you regular reminders to keep up with your language lessons to make sure you’re not slacking off
  11. Springboard: Data AnalysisManipulate and analyse data
    Data can be extremely boring at first glance, but today almost everyone needs people who can break down data. The curriculum covers statistics, data visualisation and analysing data sets – among a range of other things. It also incorporates some of the stuff discussed above, such as machine learning and computer programming. You can even invite your friends to learn with you on the platform and exchange notes as you go along!
  12. Data Quest: another great course to come to grips with everything data.
    By working with real-life data science problems, you’ll be taken through the steps on how to write code and work with data sets.  And it’s a little less extensive than Springboard.
  13. Elite Data ScienceFree content
    This has a library of free content for you to choose from – including how to write the perfect data science CV and tips on how to pass the rigorous data science job interviews. Great for those who want a quick overview of the industry.
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