Summertime usually means family vacations, lazy days on the lake, backyard cookouts, Fourth of July parades, and business trips to Random City, USA for a good, old-fashioned professional development conference. Can’t you just smell the chafing dish fuel and feel the ice cold conference room now?

Christine at MozCon

Digital Strategist Christine Hudson at MozCon 2019.


While we all look forward to the opportunity to network and gain more insight about our industries, the lingering COVID-19 pandemic is making everyone step back and evaluate which social gatherings are essential and more importantly, allowed by CDC and state guidelines. For now, conferences are at the top of the list of large gatherings to be postponed or cancelled.

But that doesn’t mean we should put our professional development on hold. I’m reminded of the quote, “There’s time now,” from my favorite Twilight Zone episode. Marketing, design, and public relations professional organizations know we’ve got some time to spare and are being nimble by increasing their online offerings for us to enjoy in the comfort of our pajamas. Here are some we’re signing up for.

A Range of Depths and Prices

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, many executives seek learning and certification opportunities over the summer. Experts say you can still seek meaningful training during this social distancing timeframe.

With a few clicks, you can find a range of virtual courses—some may be in the daily newsletters in your inbox right now.

The Muse has compiled a helpful list of 50 (Cheap) Professional Development Classes Anyone Can Take that spans a variety of topics and skills. Maybe now’s the time to become more familiar with SEO (for the price of your work email) or brush up on your public speaking skills ($29)? If you’ve got five minutes, AdWeek is offering Microlearning that promises to give “practical knowledge and actionable insights.”

LinkedIn Learning is a robust world of webinars that can be tailored to your interests, skills and profession. The best part? Right now, you can take in a month for free. After that, you can get access with a LinkedIn Premium account.

CreativeMornings, known for their local meetups around the country, has taken their community online with Virtual Field Trips, a mix of fun and professional opportunities to explore from your makeshift at-home office.

Traditional Conferences Gone Virtual 

One of the perks of membership to industry organizations is the opportunity for in-person and online professional development. Luckily, organizations like American Institute for Graphic Arts and the Public Relations Society of America have been offering virtual courses for years. During the pandemic, they’ve added more opportunities to gain valuable skills and understand where our industries are headed during this unprecedented time.

Some annual conferences, like MozCon and INBOUND, have already announced they will be completely virtual this year. Other meet-ups that take place in the fall are waiting to announce their decisions. We’re curious and looking forward to the ways these digital marketing conferences that rely on interactive exercises plan to deliver a similar experience to attendees.

We should settle into the idea that most networking and professional development opportunities will look completely different for rest of the year, and even beyond. For now, sign up for a webinar or virtual conference, and make the most by taking note of presenters and attendees so you can connect later. Put on your new conference PJs and get learning today!