10 free online classes that will help you gain new skills to succeed in your career

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Many people now have extra time on their hands as they stay home and comply with social distancing measures. To pass the time, some of people are baking, while others are taking advantage of free virtual tours

If you feel motivated to learn a new skill, you can use this time to try out the plethora of free courses currently available online. Universities like Harvard and Yale have given free access to some of their courses, and websites like edX, Future Learn and Coursera also offer free online classes from various universities.

Whether you want to polish up your project planning skills, learn how to negotiate successfully or dip your toes into basic Mandarin, CNBC Make It rounded up 10 courses for those interested in improving their skills in business management, entrepreneurship, personal finance and more.

These classes are free, but you may have to pay in order to obtain a certificate proving your completion of the course. Prices vary depending on the class.

Business management

1. Collaborative Working in a Remote Team

  • Offered by University of Leeds and the Institute Coding on Future Learn 
  • Duration: 2 weeks, 2 hours per week

Many businesses have had to shift to remote work in order to comply with social distancing measures. But for some business managers, this is their first time managing remote teams. This course will help you learn to navigate the ups and downs of remote work and how to effectively manage remote workers. 

2. Fundamentals of Project Planning and Management

This course teaches the basics of project planning to ensure your future projects run smoothly. Some of the topics the class covers include:

  • How to determine and develop a project plan
  • How to identify and assess risks
  • How to set a budget


3. Becoming an Entrepreneur

  • Offered by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on edX
  • Duration: 6 weeks, 1 to 3 hours per week 

If you have ever been curious about founding your own company, but do not know where to start or lack an idea, check out this course from MIT. The class, taught by Laurie Stach, founder and director of LaunchX, and Martin Culpepper, professor of mechanical engineering, lays out the basic elements of starting a new business, including market research, identifying business opportunities and pitching ideas. 

Want to learn more about the basics of entrepreneurship? Entrepreneurship 101 from MIT is also available on edX. 

4. Financing Innovative Ventures

  • Offered by University of Maryland on edX
  • Duration: 4 weeks, 2 to 3 hours per week 

Raising funds for a new business can be a challenge of its own. This class from the University of Maryland guides aspiring entrepreneurs through how to develop investor pitches, figure out fundraising options and perform company valuations, as well as other aspects of financing your own company. 

Personal finance

5. Personal and Family Financial Planning

  • Offered by University of Florida on Coursera
  • Duration: 9 weeks, 1 to 2 hours per week

It is never too late to organize your personal finances. This course can help you learn "prudent habits" to implement in your finances, including managing income taxes and how to build and maintain good credit. 

6. Financial Planning for Young Adults

  • Offered by University of Illinois on Coursera
  • Duration: 4 weeks, 3 to 4 hours per week

Aimed at young adults, this course introduces the basic concepts of financial planning, including how to assess your finances, budgeting, saving, setting financial goals and more. If you are interested in pursuing a career in financial planning, this course also includes video interviews with professionals working in the field. 

Self-improvement skills

7. Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills

  • Offered by University of Michigan on edX and Coursera
  • Duration: 7 weeks, 2 to 4 hours per week

At some point in your career, negotiation skills will likely be necessary. You may want to negotiate a higher salary or a job offer. Through this course from the University of Michigan, you will learn the four basic steps for a successful negotiation. 

8. Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

  • Offered by Rochester Institute of Technology on edX
  • Duration: 3 weeks, 4 to 6 hours per week 

Critical thinking and problem solving are two of the most sought after qualities in employees and business leaders. If you'd like to improve on those skills, this course may help to "demystify, discuss and provide application techniques for critical thinking and problem solving in a business context."

9. Public Speaking

  • Offered by Rochester Institute of Technology on edX
  • Duration: 3 weeks, 4 to 6 hours per week 

Another attractive quality in a leader is confidence in public speaking. Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, has credited a public speaking course as a source of his success. 

But for many people, public speaking is terrifying. This class from Rochester Institute of Technology can be a step to overcome the fear. It covers several tools and methods to overcoming public speaking anxiety once and for all. 

10. Mandarin Chinese Level 1

  • Offered by MandarinX on edX
  • Duration: 6 weeks, 4 to 10 hours per week 

Five years ago, Bill Gates admitted in a Reddit Q&A he felt "pretty stupid" for not being fluent in any foreign languages. In contrast, Mark Zuckerberg impressed Chinese university students by showing off his Mandarin skills at a Q&A panel.

Studies have shown the benefits of bilingualism, including the ability to outperform monolinguals in conflict resolution. Also, you can impress employers by knowing multiple languages. If you have excess free time right now, you may want to try learning a popular language such as Mandarin or Spanish.

Check out: The best credit cards of 2021 could earn you over $1,000 in 5 years

Don't miss: 5 tips for effectively working from home during the coronavirus outbreak, when you have kids

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