5 “Sexiest” Free Online Courses on Data Analaytics

Have you heard about the cool things called Data Analytics or Data Science? Sounds sexy right? No? 🙂 Well, it better does, ’cause  according to World Economic Forum’s “The Future of The Jobs” 2016 report, by 2020 Data Analytics is going to be the most required skill by employers. You see where I’m going?

New job market trends require everyone to be aware of at least the basics of Data Analytics. Here’s an intro video to get an idea what it is.

Today we are getting tons of data every moment and it can’t be analyzed without specific technologies. Every employer or organization needs people with these skills, so mastering them can be extremely helpful for you, especially if you are a  location independent worker or a freelancer.

Data analytics is a science for collecting, storing and analyzing data, so to speak, “making sense of it”. It may seem to you, that if you are not a programmer, mathematician, engineer or someone from that sphere, you don’t need it. But you need it more in your life than you can imagine.

Of course, you won’t become a data scientist in 1 month or even 6 months, but you will start understanding how data works and most importantly, what level and what kind of data science do you need for your work.

So, here are 5 best free online courses, that I put together for you to save time. Right now I’m learning more advanced data analytics skills to use them as a journalist and a marketing specialist. I’ve collected the courses that don’t require advanced mathematics or coding background. They are free and easy to get started.

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1. “Getting started with data science” on bigdatauniversity.com.

Course created by: IBM. Level: Beginner. Duration: 2 hours.  Certificate: None.

This is a collection of short 2-5 min. video interviews about the very basics of Data Analytics. This will really help you get an idea about the topic and get started and won’t take too much time from you.


2. “Making Sense of Data in the Media” on futurelearn.com. 

Course created by: University of Sheffield. Level: beginner. Duration: 3 weeks (calculated 3 hours per week, but you can do faster), Certificate: available for‎ £34 ($49) if desired.

This, I think, is a must-do course. While you are not a data scientist, you need to know what all the numbers and statistics presented in media mean and should you trust them or not. This is a part of being media literate and making educated decisions about the information you get.


3. “Doing Journalism with Data: First Steps, Skills and Tools” on learno.net.

Course created by: European Journalism Center. Level: beginner. Duration: 1 month (there are 4 modules and it’s advised to do each in a week, but you can go faster or slower). Certificate: None.

It says “Doing journalism” in the title, but this course will be useful for anybody, who wants to learn how to start using data, find sense and stories in messy, complex data sets and visualize it in a manner, that’s understandable for non-scientists.


4. “Intro to Data Science” on udacity.com.

Course created by: Facebook, MongoDB, Zipfian Academy. Level: Intermediate. Duration: 2 months (it’s calculated to be done with 6 hours per week, but you can do it at your own pace). Certificate: None (this course is a part of Udacity’s  1-year “Nanodegree” program ($199/month), at the end of which you can get a certificate). 

This course requires a little bit data science background but it’s an intro, so you will learn everything from the beginning. You will also have a chance to work on a project with real-life data from New York Subway.


5. “Data, Analytics and Learning” on edX.org.

Course created by: University of Texas Arlington. Level: Intermediate. Duration: 9 weeks (calculated – 5 hours per week, but you can do it at your own pace).  Certificate: available for $50, if desired.

This course will teach you about open source programs for analyzing big data, social network data etc. You also learn the basics of the cool softwares like Tableau, LightSide, Gephi etc. It’s a very useful course, so definitely worth trying.


An example of good data visualization from Reddit.

Of course, this is not the whole list, there are tons of useful learning materials, videos, paid courses, but this can be a good guide to start.

One of the ways to learn better is to practice your learned tools on real world problems – be it writing an article, analyzing marketing data for your company or just analyzing public data to find stories or connections. You can even make some interesting discoveries and write about it.

Let me know in the comments below once you try them and what you think.  We can even do some interesting projects together 🙂 Share this source with your friends or who you think might be interested in learning this much-required skill set.

Happy Learning!

From LA with love 🙂


Disclaimer: I’m not affiliated with any of these web pages, courses or universities. I’ve made the list solely based on my experience and research. 

Skills you need to survive in new job markets

It is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself.

Leon C. Megginson, 1963


Mattaburrasaurus Skeleton – Queensland Museum.

World Economic Forum has just published “The Future of The Jobs” 2016 report  and when you look at the numbers, it’s simply hard to believe. The Report says, that the most wanted skills today didn’t even exist until 5 years ago and 65% of today’s elementary school students will work in professions, that don’t exist today.

Isn’t this mind-blowing? Would the world imagine this 5-10 years ago? Are the employers and even employees ready for this? ‘Cause if not, bad times are coming.

Poster 1
From the “Future of the Jobs” 2016 Report.

So, the value of self-education or vocational, sometimes informal education, will soon be higher, than the one from an old academic institution,  which refuses to change. Already today, looking at the curriculum of respected universities, you know for sure, that after 3-4 years you won’t be needing the skills they teach you now. And this is the state in the developed countries. Imagine what’s happening in post-soviet countries, for example.

We are living the Fourth Industrial Revolution – the most rapidly changing economical reality in our history and a lot of things are going to change during our lifetime. This means, that like pretty much in any other Industrial Revolution in history, we are going to loose a lot of jobs in short term, but create more jobs of other kinds in a long term. Well, the thing is that the “Future” is already here. Unlike the past revolutions, we have maximum 5 years to adapt, or else the market trends will crash us.

To me, the most important thing in the report was this part: “Across the countries covered by the Report, current trends could lead to a net employment impact of more than 5.1 million jobs lost to disruptive labor market changes over the period 2015–2020, with a total loss of 7.1 million jobs—two thirds of which are concentrated in routine white collar office functions, such as Office and Administrative roles—and a total gain of 2 million jobs, in Computer and Mathematical and Architecture and Engineering related fields.”

So, the skills of 7.1 Million people in 15 countries are not wanted any more. Will they be able to adapt to the new market demands? If not, what will happen to them? These are the scary questions, that interest me.

Graph 1.jpg
Source: “The Future of The Jobs” 2016 Report.

This here is the rise of the freelancer economy. You need a service? I’ll do it for you from my own location and with my own equipment, you just need to get the result and pay me for that. Of course, there will be jobs that will require physical presence, but there are already tons of successful baking companies on Etsy, which deliver cakes and cookies by post and no office is needed.

Organizational behavior theories say, that the older and bigger the organization is, the

Poster 2.jpg
From “The Future of the Jobs” 2016 Report.

slower it changes. So the changers and players of the new economy are going to be rather small start-ups and experimental educational projects, than big corporations and 100-year old universities.

The 2013 report by MIT Sloan Management Review – “Embracing Digital Technology” (research was conducted by interviewing executives of 450 companies in 106 countries) showed, that most of the CEO-s of big companies (more than $1B in revenue) are not ready to embrace the digital changes and don’t see the urgency to change.

78% of respondents said that the digital change will be urgent in their company in the next 2 years, while only 38% said that the transformation is on their CEO’s agenda.

So, most of the CEO-s are in denial and think they can chose – to change or not. The report also underlines a very important point, that most of the company CEO-s are older and techno-phobic and don’t want to learn how to incorporate technology in their work.

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Source: MIT Sloan Management Review “Embracing Digital Technology” 2013 Research.

As the needs of the market change, a lot of new startups are being created today to answer the market needs, that big corporations and old companies are very slow to accommodate.

According to the “Kauffman Index Report 2015” on Startup Activity in United States, 2015 was the most active year for start-up creations since 2010 and, according to the report, is the largest year-over-year increase in the last 2 decades.

Another interesting thing in “The Kauffman Index” was the fact that “opportunity Share of New Entrepreneurs was 79.57 percent in the 2015 Index.” This means, that nearly 8 out of 10 people had a job or were students before they opened a company, but did it, because they saw new market demands and opportunities.

Graph 2
From “Kauffman Index Report” 2015.

One of the great examples is Uber (ride providing company through phone app) – a $200K startup which is valuated at $62.5 Billion today and has even no proper offices. There was a huge demand in transportation market for lower prices and better service and they were right on time to see and meet that (how fair are their wages to drivers, is a topic for a whole new post).

Of course, elephants (being big companies) move slower, than mice (being startups and freelancers), but in this new freelancer economy, when skilled people don’t want to seat in the office and work with 1 employer any more, companies have no choice than to adapt, otherwise they will loose their employees, who make them money and die eventually.

Like in case of static companies, one-skill office employees are not wanted any more. Remember, that after computers appeared in offices, typists lost their jobs.

So what can you do to survive these drastic economical changes?

The only answer is: LEARN NEW SKILLS ALL THE TIME!

You don’t have to go to college or university again. There are tons of free and paid online courses, that will help you do that. Read, watch videos, practice, talk with others, learn however you want, but learn.

Soon I’ll make posts about best online courses to learn data analysis and other new skills, that you need to survive.

Make sure to share my post with your friends and follow my blog by e-mail or social media to get the updates!

Happy Learning! 🙂


5 Main Challenges Freelance workers face all the time

“If you believe passionately in what you are doing and whom you are doing it with, success is bound to follow. “

advice for sale
Advice, anyone?

Do I have to downgrade my level of life if I want to work for myself and be location independent in a high-cost western country (more specifically – America)? Can I still afford to pay the rent for my house and car and still be free to work from my own garden with a laptop? Or do I have to go to live in Thailand to afford being free? These are the questions, that I’m having all the time.

Unless you got a big heritage or a millionaire family, seems like you have only 2 choices to earn money if you want to live in a place, like California – to become a “slave” of an employee and be imprisoned for 8-15 hours per day in an office/factory to afford a mid-level life, or become a location independent worker and struggle to earn money (at least in the beginning).

It’s not only me, having this issues. So I researched to see what other freelance workers are saying and what do they think. Here I summed up the 5 main issues that freelancers/location independent workers face:

  1. Finding remote work online, that will pay your bills in a high-cost place, like America or any European country – especially when starting out.

    ocean - z
    My husband working on the phone in Venice, CA. – Photo by Mariam Sargsyan.

    If you follow the bloggers, who work and travel all the time, you will see that their earnings are nearly enough to afford a life in a place like Thailand or Malaysia (of course, there are always exceptions and people who choose to live that life). Yes, you can live on the beach in Brazil and be a freelance worker, but can you afford to live on the beaches of Santa Monica, CA with the same business/income? I think I can even write a PhD Thesis on this topic, but you got the idea 🙂

  2. Competing with freelancers, location independent professionals from low cost countries.

    The running never ends. – Photo by wwarby.

    This is the ever-actual one. How on earth do you compete with graphic designers from Pakistan, who offer to work for $4 per hour or even worse, a native English content writer, who lives in Thailand right now and can afford to work for $10 per hour? And I’m not saying it’s bad to have a competition, I’m just really curious how I can charge that low, when the minimum salary that will make sense for me to work for is $30/hour. And if you check the job postings on pages like freelance.com or upwork.com, you’ll see, that even Silicon Valley-based companies are looking for the lowest possible rates to hire for.  (This reminds me of competing with production in China, but that’s a topic for another post 🙂 )

  3. Diversifying income sources.  

    eggs in baskets
    Keep your eggs in different baskets 🙂

    A lot of freelance workers say that their main challenge is to get more income sources – whether it’s getting more clients to diversify the income sources or doing different jobs not to depend on 1 income stream. If nothing, there’s always a chance that some day your client might prefer a $4/hour employee from point 2 above 🙂

  4. To get big clients, you still have to meet with them from time to time to show you are real.

    Endless meetings with clients.

    Whether you are working as a freelance contractor or a remote employee, most of the companies still want to see you weekly or monthly, if you want them to be your long-term clients. Of course, it’s nothing compared to sitting in the office all day long. I guess it’s human to want to see and “touch” something physically to trust in it, but then it  makes it hard for me to work for a company in New York, for example. If I’m not available to meet, then the chance is that I can get short-term, low-cost projects only.

  5. Dealing with the legality of working in another country if you want to travel and work.

    farm work.jpg
    If you are lucky, you can even work on a farm while traveling 🙂

    No country allows you work legally if you are there with a tourist visa, which is how most of the freelancers travel. Making money on the way, while still being legal and not facing a deportation, concerns a lot of “digital nomads”, especially when they travel for longer periods of time. The only way is to work for cash or food/stay on the go or run your business online, while paying taxes in your home country.

There are a lot of steps, that you have to take before becoming location independent, such as registering your business, getting a health insurance, paying your taxes in a right way etc. and it can be scary or not as much, depending where you live :). But don’t be scared, we’ll go through everything together.

As I’m living in Los Angeles, CA, I’m going to put step-by-step guides about registering your own business in California, getting a health insurance as an independent worker and organizing everything legally. I’m going through all of it – doing all the research and preparing to register my company, so I thought you might as well benefit from my work. Just follow my blog to get notified about new posts.

I’m sure there are a lot of other issues, which we freelancers face. Please, write in the comments bellow what difficulties are you facing while working for yourself and how are you trying to overcome them. You can also put your questions for which you would like me to do some research and find answers.

Yours with love,

Mariam 🙂

Can you really be location independent?

photo for location dependent post

“It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?”

Have you ever dreamed of leaving your office job and just working for yourself? Have you ever looked at your watch at 2pm during the workday and felt that you are in prison and you will die if you don’t get out of there (and it doesn’t really matter if it’s a cool high-tech office or a small garage)?

So, I did it! (And I’m proud of it actually, although I couldn’t have done it without my sweet husband’s support and encouragement 🙂 )

I left my office job nearly a month ago and decided to be independent and work for myself only. Honestly, I was afraid and I still am. And who isn’t? But my wish to be free was more than my fear and at some point I didn’t really care what’s gonna happen. I didn’t plan for it for years, I didn’t have huge savings, I just felt it’s time to grow up and be myself.

While everybody else tells you what to do to become independent, I’m going to share with you my journey. I have no ready answers, I’m going to try out a lot of things and share my experience with you. I know that there are a lot of people out there like me, who are educated, creative, like being free, don’t wanna work for anybody else’s dreams and wanna build their own lives.  I think that even if there are just 100 people like me, it’s worth writing and sharing it, ’cause I also would love to hear about all your experiences and journeys to your desired lifestyle.

Living in Los Angeles you see a lot of people around you that have flexible schedules, can allow themselves going to the beach during workdays, travel all the time and it all seams so easy. But is it?

When you google “how to be location independent” you feel like your dreams have come true. There are tons of tip-articles that advise you how to ditch your office job, start your own business and go lie on the beach with the cocktail.

Most of the times, when people talk about working from anywhere, they consider that you want to travel ALL THE TIME. The idea of being a “digital nomad” is a hype now. There are a lot of interesting pages and Facebook groups, like Webworktravel – Digital Nomad Network, Digital Nomads, Escape, Nunomad, Location Independent etc. if you want to work for yourself AND travel. They will help you find everything from most affordable countries to co-working spaces and local communities.

But what if you don’t wanna travel all the time? I’m all for traveling. I’ve been in 13 countries, I love airports and trains and can’t imagine my life without going to new places. But do I wanna do it all the time? No. I have a family in LA, I want to live and work here and I can’t consider travelling during the whole year (taking into account my family members’ lifestyle preferences and expenses).

Last year Forbes did an extensive research on the “digital nomad” lifestyle and found out that 75% of digital nomads are self employed or small business owners and that most of them try to live in low-cost countries like Indonesia or Thailand, while charging their clients by higher rates in western countries.

So, the question is can you make a decent living (if not become rich) by working for yourself and still living in an expensive city like Los Angeles?   

Now I’m trying to find the answer to that question. So, I decided to do what I love most and try make a living sitting in my LA apartment (well, also going to ocean sometimes 🙂 ).

I’m a journalist/marketing specialist by background and I did it for a lot of years but I’m also going crazy for creating art in a form of jewelry or other design pieces (check them here). Eventually, I decided to combine them – create art, write about it and my experiences on the way and see where it goes. I started creating the designs that I long had in mind and opened my Etsy shop.

Now it’s time to manage all of that – create, write, spend time with my husband, cook healthy food (we try eating at home for most of the time), travel and manage the house (my FAVORITE part 🙂 ).

So, if you are going through the same, had a good or bad experience or even if you are still afraid to leave your office, please, share it with me. I would love to hear your thoughts.

And I’ll keep sharing my stories with you.