6 Flexible & Affordable Options for Professional Development

September is here which means many people are heading back to school to hit the books. September often represents a fresh start, kind of like a secondary New Years. A fresh start with a renewed mindset after a summer break filled with patios, mimosas, beaches and BBQs. If you’ve been out of the classroom for some time,this is an opportunity to gain some new information to enhance your skillset.

Whether you want to advance in your career, transition into another industry or just expand your knowledge, lifelong learning is going to be one of your vital keys to success. Learn-to-Earn. Whether it’s a course, certification or a refresher of some sort, the more you know keeps you up to speed with competition in the world of work. I acknowledge that most of you are working and would love to go back to school however can’t afford to drop the 9-5 due to the expenses that comes with adulting. Other people just might be dreading the thought of being in a classroom. Whatever your current situation, I’ve compiled some options that will allow you to keep your mind sharp and enhancing your skills all while making minor schedule adjustments and avoiding the large expenses that come with higher education. Below you will find some great learning options for you to explore that can best meet your needs and budget for professional development.

1. School of Continuing Studies– Colleges & Universities ($$$)

Whether you want to do a single course or sudy a program part-time, you can access the school of continuing studies at the college/university of your choice. These courses are often offered during the evenings, weekends or through distance learning (online). Whether you want to advance in your career or switch industries, I recommend checking out schools of your interest and seeing what courses they have to offer. Please note, although credible this is one of the pricier options of the bunch.

2. Learn4Life – Toronto Disctrict School Board- Evening Courses ($-$$)


If you live in Toronto, you may or may not have received this catalogue by the TDSB in your mailbox. We can be honest, you probably thought nothing of it and tossed it on the table for future review or it went directly into the recycling. However, I definitely recommend taking some time to review what’s available. TDSB launches evening courses for adults three times a year (Fall, Winter, Spring/Summer) which range from various topics and locations. Whether you want to learn accounting essentials, a second language, salsa dancing or graphic design, there’s something for everyone. Whether you’re just seeking a hobby or getting into it with more of business-minded approach it's something to consider.

3. Online Courses(Free – $)

There are various online resources out there designed to enhance your skills and knowledge. Some of these courses are completely free while others may have a cost associated with them. Generally speaking you can take courses that vary from digital marketing, software development, photography, business, etc. These trainings are things you can use to further market yourself to employers and make great additions to your resume so I definitely suggest using it to your advantage.

(Side note, I’m someone who likes to practice what they preach. I actually recently registered for a Entrepreneurship course being offered by MaRS Discovery District. I’ll let you know how it goes!)

4. Community Workshops (Free - $$)

If your prefer the traditional route of doing something in person and with less of a commitment I would suggest attending a workshop or two. Workshops can vary from ongoing series to completey one-off events. Some general places to start are the following:

Toronto Public Library host a variety of workshops at different locations which can range from financial literacy, employment, crafts and more.

Eventbrite has a lot of information for different events happening in the GTA. Speaking on personal experience, I actually had the opportunity to attend a variety of workshops and networking events such as Masterclasses with Curated Life (which resulted in great connections with some fellow girl bosses) as well as a workshop for Black Women Learning Code hosted by Tech Spark Inc. All of these workshops were truly rewarding experiences that provided me with useful knowledge to enhance my craft, work ethic and network. (I strongly suggest that those of you reading this step out of your comfort zone and attend a session of some sort.. solo)

5. In-house Training & Professional Development

Depending on your employer and industry there could be a professional development opportunity waiting for you. Employers will either provdie in-house training or often times have a budget set aside specifically for staff training and development. Remember, as an employee you’re an investment. Employers want the best of the best and will often reflect that through providing training opportunities as a perk. If you’re interested in taking the next step in your career and want to move up in your company I suggest preparing yourself to have a conversation with your direct supervisor or manager. Sometime your employer will even send mass emails regarding random training opportunities. If you’re just getting started in your career especially, go for it! Take any training you can get your hands on. It will pay off in the long run whether you stay with the company or not… once again, speaking from personal experience.

6. Additional resources/research – Independent Research (Free - $)

This one is a given. You have access to a wealth of knowledge available at your finger tips. Do your research and find relevant books, youtube videos and blogs (such as The Working Millennial – shameless mention) that can help your overall enrichment. Whether its professional, health/fitness, personal, spiritual, etc. Take the time to feed your mind when ever you can that will help your overall development. If anything ask people in your network for reccomendations, I’m sure you’ll find the information you looking for.

Price range $ (<100) | $ - $$ (100-250) | $$$(250+)