In today's digital world, companies are struggling to find IT professionals with the cutting-edge skills they need to drive innovation and growth. If you're an IT professional looking to land a new role or a professional looking to make a career change, summer's the perfect time to brush up on new skills. And the availability and affordability of online learning has made it easier than ever to add critical hard and soft skills, even those from elite learning institutions like Harvard, MIT and Columbia University, says Anant Agarwal, CEO of online learning provider edX.
"Talking to CIOs and hiring managers, we find that they're struggling to find talent with the needed skills to grow their business and remain competitive -- a prime example of this is in data science and analytics which, as a career, has only evolved in the last few years. Traditional educational institutions can't keep up with that," Agarwal says.
If you're looking to beef up your IT resume, Agarwal suggests focusing on five areas: introduction to computer science; business and management including entrepreneurship; Java programming; data science and analytics; and agile software development.
[ Related story: 10 top-ranked tech-focused MBA programs ]
"These are a great way to capitalize on what employers need for a very low cost and at your own pace -- you could absolutely put together a few of these courses over one summer and give your resume a major boost before the fall. While all of the courses are available to "audit" for free, just as you would through a traditional university, you can receive a certificate from the partner university for a small fee," Agarwal says.
Here are five sample courses that will give your résumé a boost this summer.
IT is one of the fastest-growing and most lucrative industries, so for professionals looking to brush up on basics or to make a career change, it's a great place to start, Agarwal says. The edX course was developed and delivered in partnership with Harvard University, so the "brand" packs even more of a punch for potential employers, he says.
This course encourages students to identify a problem, develop a solution and then work to monetize that through a business plan. First, think about what you need. Next, find out whether others want the same thing. If they do, you can start a venture -- for profit or nonprofit -- to supply others with the novel product or service you first developed for yourself.
The examples of user innovation are infinite; a surfer created the GoPro to take selfies while surfing. A student came up with Dropbox after forgetting his flash drive. Two broke entrepreneurs rented out their living room to help pay rent, and Airbnb was born. They'll all share their paths to startup success during this course, taught by Eric von Hippel, according to edX.
[ Related story: How agile helps attract and retain millennial engineers ]
In addition to partnerships with elite colleges and universities, edX also partners with IT companies and corporations, like Microsoft. This course explores the multiple tools developed to effectively and efficiently analyze data using the powerful Python programming language.
You'll start with basic arithmetic and variables, then learn how to handle data structures, such as Python lists, Numpy arrays, and Pandas DataFrames. Along the way, you'll learn about Python functions and control flow. Plus, you'll look at the world of data visualizations with Python and create your own stunning visualizations based on real data, according to edX.
Java continues its reign as one of the most popular programming languages in the world, and is the basis for many enterprise applications as well as a foundation for many web-based solutions and web sites. This Java course from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology will provide you with a strong understanding of basic Java programming elements and data abstraction using problem representation and the object-oriented framework.
This course uses sample objects such as photos or images to illustrate some important concepts to enhance understanding and retention. Student will learn to write procedural programs using variables, arrays, control statements, loops, recursion, data abstraction and objects in an integrated development environment.
This story, "5 ways to beef up your resume over the summer" was originally published by CIO.