Skip to Main Content
by SixFigureStart | October 09, 2009


One of the defining lessons of this recession for many people has been in how to fill their spare time. Think back to when you had a job, and all the nice things that came with it—things like money, security, and the ability to put a roof over your head and food on your table without worrying about it. Those are the things that, in the laid-off world, you're likely missing—it's the list of what you'd like to have, given the opportunity. Even when you were working though, chances are you had a list like that in your head—only for most people, it was a list of things you'd like to do, if you only had the time. Typical items on lists like that include self-improvement tasks—things like reading more or learning languages—as well as bigger-ticket fantasy items like having the ability to travel anywhere on a whim.

The good news is that being laid-off doesn't have to mean you give up on the self-improvement side of things; there's plenty of time in the day to conduct a full job hunt and to have a little time left over to nourish mind and body—and none of it has to cost the earth. Sure, the jet-set lifestyle might be out of reach, but there's no time like the present to head down to a library or used bookstore (or to find used books online) and finally pick up that copy of War and Peace, the collected Faulkner, Dante's Inferno, or whatever else it is you've always connoted as making the difference between being merely literate and being "well-read."

Now, advice on going to the library isn't exactly groundbreaking "Free Stuff Friday" fare, so here's a genuinely free deal that can help out with another of those self-improvement tasks: learning a language. The BBC offers 12-week introductory courses in French, German, Italian and Spanish—all for free (or pour gratuit, für frei, per libero,and para libre, as you'll soon be learning to say). And, not only do you get the opportunity to pick up a language for nothing, the BBC even offers assessment and a certificate for those that complete the course. And I probably don't even need to go into the benefits of keeping your mind active during the job hunt or having new skills to add to your resume, right?

Happy learning!

--Posted by Phil Stott, Vault Staff Writer


Want to be found by top employers? Upload Your Resume

Join Gold to Unlock Company Reviews

Subscribe to the Vault

Be the first to read new articles and get updates from the Vault team.