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by SixFigureStart | June 11, 2009


Many victims of layoffs this year were young, entry-level--or near entry-level—employees. And if you were one of those perhaps-now-not-so-newly laid off youngsters, you've probably considering going back to school to make yourself more marketable. But if you're on the fence about spending thousands of dollars on a JD/MBA/MA/MFA/MD/PhD, consider some other things you can do to make your resume fresh and relevant. Volunteering is a big one. Learning a new skill--either by reading up, taking a continuing ed course or earning a certificate--is another. On his blog, Seth Godin recommends the following:

  • Spend twenty hours a week running a project for a non-profit.
  • Teach yourself Java, HTML, Flash, PHP and SQL. Not a little, but mastery. [Clarification: I know you can't become a master programmer of all these in a year. I used the word mastery to distinguish it from 'familiarity' which is what you get from one of those Dummies type books. I would hope you could write code that solves problems, works and is reasonably clear, not that you can program well enough to work for Joel Spolsky. Sorry if I ruffled feathers.]
  • Volunteer to coach or assistant coach a kids sports team.
  • Start, run and grow an online community.
  • Give a speech a week to local organizations.
  • Write a regular newsletter or blog about an industry you care about.
  • Learn a foreign language fluently.
  • Write three detailed business plans for projects in the industry you care about.
  • Self-publish a book.
  • Run a marathon.

While successfully completing everything on Godin's list may take the same amount of time as an MBA program, you'll still come out on the other end with a great resume--and no new student loans.

--Posted by Carolyn Wise, Vault Senior Education Editor


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