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Joe Szynkowski: Treat yourself with a Learning course
Column | WorkHappy

Joe Szynkowski: Treat yourself with a Learning course

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I don’t know about you, but I’ve got some Christmas gift cards burning a hole in my pocket. There’s something great about the power of being able to choose whatever you want — within the financial constraints of the gift card, of course — and not having to answer to anyone about it. 

I’ve got a wife and three kids. Discretionary spending comes with a cocktail of guilt and defensiveness. I know I don’t “need” another coffee table book on the history of punk rock music, but thanks to my Barnes and Noble gift card, I can now faultlessly prop it next to my record player.

For working professionals, a similar self-shaming experience can come with learning and development. Should you really be spending company money on seminars or conferences? Does your company even have a professional development budget devoted to growing its employees?

For small-business owners, there may not even be enough revenue left on the bottom line after salaries and overhead costs to consider springing for this type of program.

For me, the prospect of professional development has always come with weighing out cost versus benefit. When I was working for myself, I made it a priority to travel to Nashville and Atlanta for some high-quality networking events.

Those investments paid big dividends, but they also came with some guilt. Was I spending company money wisely? Were there other, more affordable options that I was overlooking? 

Fortunately, there is a new platform offering benefits similar to the gift card — it’s free to you. I stumbled upon LinkedIn Learning last week and immediately became overwhelmed by the impact it could have on the current workplace.

LinkedIn is obviously a “must-have” for professionals who are serious about their careers. Its Learning program looks to be a game-changer for employees and employers alike.

Getting started

LinkedIn Learning features more than 16,000 courses running the gambit through sales, marketing, technology, leadership and everything in between. They add about 50 courses every week in seven different languages. This keeps things fresh and interesting in a digital world where shoddy content makes finding quality learning experiences a frustrating and difficult endeavor.

From what I’ve been able to discover on LinkedIn Learning, the organization of the library is top-notch. The site touts “Hollywood-caliber production quality” and they’re not far off. The program leans on real-world business leaders to deliver these courses, and they’re even openly looking for new instructors. If you’ve got a background in a particular sector, you may be able to contribute to the overall learning environment through a pretty powerful platform.

Why Learning, why now?

Learning is a critical factor driving the current state of career unhappiness for the American worker.

According to go2HR, 40% of employees with poor training leave their companies within the first year. Along the same lines, 74% of employees feel they are not reaching their full potential, according to The Learning Wave.

Companies can help stem this tide of discontentment with better professional development programs, and options like LinkedIn Learning can be utilized to push employees to growth. 

The coronavirus pandemic has forced businesses across the country to change the way they work. It has also impacted how employees learn.

As more effort and ingenuity go into digital learning, it’s going to become easier than ever for professionals to refine their skillsets and identify new passions.

Give yourself the gift of development heading into 2021. You won’t regret it.

Joe Szynkowski is a Sr. Director for NuVinAir Global, a Dallas-based company disrupting the automotive industry. Thanks to technology, he does so happily from his home east of Marion. Check out for his WorkHappy Spotlights or email for more guidance on finding career joy.


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