Getting ahead by focusing on your goals

Fasten Your Oxygen Mask First” is a metaphor for those who take care of everything and everyone except themselves. Traditionally as we enter a new year, we make resolutions to improve certain aspects of our lives—maybe to lose weight, get better organized or become a better person. But according to a Marist Poll of Americans who planned to make a resolution in 2018, 9 percent wanted this to be the year they got a better job. And the best way to do this is to invest in yourself by taking advantage of educational opportunities to improve your competitive advantage.

When talking to women who participate in various Global Gaming Women programs, our board members often hear that there are two big obstacles to expanding a resume—time and money. But with the myriad of free or nearly free educational opportunities from prestigious universities that are available online, both obstacles are easily overcome.

According to Mark Wayman, a successful talent agent for highly compensated executives in the gaming/casino and technology industries, the job market is extremely competitive right now because of the low unemployment rate. In the gaming industry, he suggests that marketing, technology and finance are great career choices, and he has recently seen greater demand for senior executives in marketing and planning and analysis (P&A). Within the technology sector, he has seen demand for professionals with skills in software development and cybersecurity.

There are dozens of robust websites that offer high-quality online courses from major colleges, taught by teachers highly accomplished in their professions, which students can complete on their own, without enrollment in a full-time program. Many are free, or available with a certificate for a small fee.

To help take advantage of some of the opportunities Wayman noted, for example, edX.org offers a free course in analyzing and visualizing data with Excel, which is part of its larger Microsoft Professional Program Certificate in Big Data, and the Microsoft Professional Program Certificate in Data Science.

EdX is a nonprofit which relies on verified certificates to help fund free education for participants globally. According to the course description on the website, Excel is one of the most widely used solutions for analyzing and visualizing data, and the curriculum includes an introduction to the latest version of the tools, in Excel 2016. Students will have the opportunity to learn a variety of valuable skills, including how to gather and transform data from multiple sources, data model creation, and to explore, analyze and visualize data. The course is self-paced, and taught by a solutions architect for DataRails and a senior content developer for Microsoft. A verified certificate is available for $99.

When it comes time to apply for that promotion, after completing your chosen courses, visit Coursera.org to gain a competitive edge by taking their online course “Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills,” taught by a Williamson Family Professor of Business Administration and Thurnau Professor of Business Law from the University of Michigan.

The course can be taken at the pace desired by the student, and is offered in English with subtitles available in Ukranian, Chinese, Portugese, Russian and Spanish. Coursera was founded in 2012 by two Stanford computer science professors who wanted to share their knowledge and skills with the world. They have now created a platform where anyone, anywhere can learn and earn credentials from the world’s top universities and education providers.

The Coursera course curriculum includes the four steps to a successful negotiation, as well as the ability to test newly acquired negotiation skills with a local friend or a partner from another part of the world. Participants learn by watching interactive short videos (from five to 20 minutes) and receive feedback, free negotiating planning tools and a free app. The course is free without a certificate and only $49 with one, and financial aid is available for qualifying students.

To expand the mind and nourish the soul, Coursera offers a free course entitled “Modern Art & Ideas” offered by the Museum of Modern Art. This course is designed to help anyone interested in learning more about modern and contemporary art, exploring four themes that educators at the Museum of Modern Art use frequently in their teaching. No prior knowledge of art history or museum-based teaching practice is required, and the course gives students the opportunity “through videos, slideshows, and a variety of resources, readings, and activities, to explore the content and context of works of art in MoMA’s collection.”

Global Gaming Women offers a pyramid of educational classes which feature a core curriculum that includes modules to improve business skills and promote personal business growth. One of the best benefits of these courses is the ability to build a network of professional relationships with women in gaming at the same career stage, outside of the participant’s own company.

These Global Gaming Women educational opportunities are offered regionally throughout the United States, and most of the classes are offered via scholarship, meaning that there is no charge to the individual or their employer, except lodging and travel. To participate in the GGW programs, individuals must be registered with Global Gaming Women through the GGW website. After registration, GGW will provide notice of upcoming opportunities and events.

Registration is free—to sign up and see a list of benefits, please visit globalgamingwomen.org/ participation-benefits, or call Global Gaming Women Director Felicia Gassen at 702-492-5320 for more information on upcoming classes and events. Join Global Gaming Women, take some online courses, and make 2018 the year that you finally invest in yourself!

Author: Virginia McDowell

Virginia McDowell retired as president and CEO of Isle of Capri Casinos in April 2016, after a 35-year career in the gaming industry. She currently serves as president and board chair of Global Gaming Women.