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Free professional and personal development resources in Canada

Nothing excites me more than free things. No one zips around sampling stations at grocery stores with greater fervour than I do.  Life is pretty expensive, so I have to take advantage of anything that doesn’t require me to swipe my credit card. I also love learning new things to make my life easier to manage and make my career more successful. Did you know, you can enjoy free classes, networking events and workshops at institutions across Canada? Let’s jump in.

Career development

Not everyone is lucky to graduate from a college program that is pretty hands-on with getting you ready for your job hunt. Maybe your resume is a little rough around the edges or you lack confidence with job interviews. Lucky for you, there are plenty of workshops dedicated to getting you ready to find your dream job.

Libraries are the first place to look, as they regularly host free workshops and classes related to career development. For example, the Toronto Public Library has a career and job search program that provides a “resume clinic” and classes on a variety of career topics.

You can also look towards non-profit or government organizations that provide workshops on interview preparation, job search strategies, retaining long-term employment once you find a job, and more! Here are some organizations that currently host these type of workshops:

Become more tech-savvy

Having advanced computer and/or design skills are highly valued amongst communications and marketing professionals. Anyone can write a press release, but how many can hop into a CRM and code a webpage? Few.

Coding, really? I won’t have to do any coding at my job. What makes you so sure of that? I’ve benefited from knowing HTML/CSS at two different roles where my primary focus was actually social media. But when there was an extra task for someone who knows their way around WordPress and Drupal, I was ready to take that on because I had these extra skills.

Or hey, you may never need to code at your job. But you will work with product designers and developers, and learning their language and understanding their work will make you better at your job and more able to meld cross-developmental divides.

You can find free, introductory classes about HTML, digital marketing, Python programming, UX design and more at various professional development companies across Canada, such as:

For extremely basic classes, on Microsoft Office or video editing, you can also check your local library for free workshops.

Managing your $$$

Do you doubt you will ever be able to pay your student loans and monthly bills and have something left over to put away for a rainy day? A lot of us are in the same boat. Sometimes, all we need is advice from someone who actually knows what they’re talking about. (Not our well-meaning uncle who has a Business degree).

Unfortunately, learning the tax code was not part of our high school curriculum but it’s not too late to figure it out. Libraries provide free classes to help you figure out how to manage your money. If your local library isn’t listed here, go to their website to see what they offer.

Get into networking events without a ticket

You know about them. Those events filled with all the people in your industry who you’re dying to meet. But first, you have to buy an expensive ticket just to get through the door. Well, if you can’t shell out for the ticket, there are still some organized networking events open to professionals that are totally free.

Most of these free events have a wider assortment of people than a ticketed event. These events are open to all kinds of professionals, rather than those who are only in communications or marketing.

So where do you find these events?

  • Local library
  • Eventbrite
  • Membership groups like WeMeet (joining the group and going to the events is free)

Want more?

Are you excited by all these freebies but to find even more? They’re out there, you just have to go looking for them.

Start with Eventbrite, which is a website that allows companies to post their upcoming events. We’re talking seminars, networking events, workshops and more. The site allows you to filter for free events so you can quickly pull up anything that won’t require you to buy a ticket.

Are you greedy for knowledge? Several of the world’s top universities have made their classes available online. Use this list to see what’s available from some of the world’s best universities.

Maybe you’ll find an event or workshop you will really want to attend and is completely relevant to your job. Reach out to your employer and ask if they will cover the cost or could get a corporate discount (especially if the course or event is hosted by a company that your employer purchases from).

For example, HubSpot is used by many companies and they offer all kinds of marketing and social media classes through their HubSpot Academy. Similarly, Salesforce is a popular software and they host conferences that feature workshops and talks, and you can get in for free, or with a discount, if your company is a user.

And keep your eyes open, Google search and ask around. Free stuff is out there and it’s yours for the taking.