What can a woman with fifteen years’ corporate communications work that is looking to move into project management do to further her chances of a job commensurate with her experience?

She’s likely rewritten her resume, identified her transferrable skills, networked with those in her chosen field and brushed up on industry trends. Her next steps, say experts: Research online professional development courses and reentry-focused alumni groups.

“Any time you advance your education and steep yourself in some particular relevant area in your industry, it is a clear signal to potential employees about your commitment to being a valuable employee,” says Lynn Weitzman, Apres’ Lead Career Coach. “It also demonstrates that you are current on industry-specific trends or necessary technical skills. This is especially true for people returning to work after an absence.”

Professional Development Courses

So-called “digital classrooms” are on the rise. Oregon State University’s “Ecampus,” for example, considered one of the best in the country, and run by the school, counts more than 5,000 among those taking online courses as opposed to 24,500 enrolled in its physical campus. It expects online enrollment to double in the next ten years.

Other schools are turning to online learning partners to push their courses onto the Web. The University of Pennsylvania works with the EdX platform to allow virtual students to take such Wharton Business School courses as “Digital Marketing, Social Media, and E-Commerce for Your Business” and “Marketing Analytics: Data Tools and Techniques.”

Even corporations are relying on courses such as the ones EdX creates to help current employees build new skills.

“Our Microsoft Professional Program, powered by edX.org, is the pinnacle of our effort to address the growing skills gap in fields like data science through the emerging learning modality of MOOCs,” says Keith Boyd, Director Microsoft Professional Program. “We believe that graduates of this program would be successful not just at Microsoft, but in any enterprise looking for graduates in this critical, 21st century profession.”

And it makes sense. Distance learning allows those with busy schedules or full-time jobs to get up to speed on necessary industry skills on their own time without disruption.

“For women, or for anyone, looking to re-enter the workforce after a lengthy period of time off, there is going to be a learning curve,” says Michelle Coyne, Manager Human Resources, edX. “The developments in technology and talent that we see across every industry means that the job you left will almost certainly have changed when you return. For those faced with this challenge, online courses can be a real game changer. Not only do they offer a flexible option, where a person can take courses on their own schedule and at their own pace, but … learners can take courses from top universities and leading corporations in fields across multiple industries. For people looking to revamp their resume, CV or LinkedIn profile prior to re-entering the workforce, this is a great way to get ramped up, refine in demand skills and gain a competitive edge.”

Online courses run the gamut from a focus on digital marketing in the luxury space to the ABCs of Programmatic Advertising. Apres recommends the following courses for those looking to get started:


“Content, Advertising & Social IMC”

You will learn how marketers are successfully navigating today’s media landscape.

“Digital Marketing, Social Media, and E-Commerce for Your Business”

In this course, you will arm yourself with the essential principles and practices of marketing in the digital economy.


“Update Your Online Legal Research Skills”

Sharpen your legal research skills with these training sessions in a variety of styles-all designed to bring you to a new level of proficiency.

“Online Continuing Legal Education”

Check out the LexisNexis University for a variety of Continuing Legal Education classes and other software information.

“Check Your Bar Status and the Requirements for Continuing Legal Education”

Check the American Bar Association website to review your bar status and see the latest Continuing Legal Education courses and webinars.


Creativity and Entrepreneurship

Learn skills and listen to examples from world-renowned entrepreneurs and innovators as they discuss the parallels between the creative and entrepreneurial journeys—and why entrepreneurship, much like music or creativity, is something we all possess.

Becoming An Entrepreneur

Learn the business skills and startup mindset needed to embark on your entrepreneurial path from MIT’s entrepreneurship program, MIT Launch.

“Build Business And Financial Models”

Be introduced to spreadsheet models, modeling techniques, and common applications for investment analysis, company valuation, forecasting, and more.

Getting Started

“Improve Your Employability and Advance in Today’s Dynamic Workforce”

Build, develop, and hone the essential skills needed to improve your employability and advancement in today’s dynamic workforce.

“How To Write A Resume”

In this project-centered course, you will craft an essential cornerstone of the modern-day job or internship search: the resume.

“Career Development: Skills For Success”

Develop the professional skills you need to get hired, grow your career, and succeed in today’s competitive job market.

“Digital Marketing Professional Certificate”

Gain a competitive advantage and learn essential digital marketing skills and strategies in this 4-course program from the top ranked Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

“Supply Chain Management”

Earn a MicroMasters credential from MIT’s #1 ranked Supply Chain Management Program to advance your career.

“Microsoft Professional Program Certificate in Data Science”

Gain the skills you need to get the data science job you want.

“Project Management”

Launch your career in an industry that is adding 1.5 million jobs globally each year by earning a Project Management MicroMasters Credential from RIT.

“HTML5 from W3C”

Learn HTML5 directly from W3C, the organization that develops Web standards.

“User Experience (UX) Research and Design”

Gain a solid foundation in UX Research and Design to help create products and advance your career.

“Artificial Intelligence”

Earn a MicroMasters Credential in Artificial Intelligence from Columbia University to launch your career in computer science and design the future.

“Professional development courses are helpful to anyone trying to re-enter the workforce or change careers because they are going to teach the most up-to-date bleeding edge skills the marketplace is hiring for,” says Adda Birnir, CEO of Skillcrush, which offers online coding and web design courses.

Alumni Groups

When faced with an employment gap, some women are turning to the alumni offices at colleges and graduate schools to help them re-start their careers. Some are taking part in webinars from home, while others are signing up for on multi-day on-ramp programs designed to immerse those that have paused their careers with the skills and know-how they need to re-enter the workforce.

Harvard Business School, for example, offers alumni a host of avenues to build upon their existing experience.

“We offer Harvard Manage Mentor free to alumni, says Kristen Fitzpatrick, Managing Director, Career & Professional Development. “This resource can help you brush up on more than forty topics including finance essentials, marketing essentials and innovation implementation. In addition to one-to-one career coaching, webinars and other resources on our website, we offer our popular ReBoot Camp at spring reunion and in select cities. This program is helpful to provide a structured environment with a career coach and small groups of fellow alumni, acting as a board of advisors, to identify the key elements you are looking for in a job, and start the action plan of how to get there.”

Many schools provide “on-ramp” courses and resources designed specifically for those who have left the workforce and are looking to re-enter, and open them up to not only their alumni but also to graduates of similar schools.

On Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Business’ alumni site, Our Northwestern, alumni can avail themselves of job postings from career offices at Stanford School of Business, Harvard Business School, INSEAD and London Business School.

And graduates of Columbia Law School and the University of Pennsylvania Law School who have been out of the workforce for at least two years can apply to take part in a 12-week paid “internship” and training program aimed at reintegrating them into the workforce.

In order to hit the ground running when it comes to re-entry or a career change, it’s important to tap into every possible resource to hit the ground running. Check your schools to see what resources they offer and visit our “Learning Tools” page for a host of professional development courses.

“If you have had a positive experience with the career services/alumni office at your alma mater, please email concierge@apresgroup.com and let us know.  The larger our network, the larger yours is.”