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School is in Session ... Still

Yep. School is in session … still.

And don’t let that bum you out, guys! At Uncommon, we’ve learned that there will never be a time in our lives when we’re not learning something, and we think that that’s actually pretty cool. The thing is that, when you are no longer obligated to sit in a classroom and when no one is holding you accountable for grades and due dates, the learning process looks a little different. We genuinely love learning new things and doing so in different ways that keep us excited. Here are a handful of our favorites:

Free! And Already at your Disposal!

Did you hear that?! Some of this stuff is ... *free* AND you can enjoy it in the comfort of your pjs (insert sound clip of popping a champagne bottle). We live in a unique time, where there is literally infinite information available at your fingertips. We know, we know! It’s certainly not all quality content, but if you know where to look, you can truly learn just about anything. Honestly, these are things that you can watch and/or listen to while you are getting ready in the morning, cooking dinner, or commuting to work. Or folding that laundry you’re procrastinating on ... yep, we see you!

  • Want to learn how to wrap the perfect gift? Or maybe how to start playing some basic guitar chords? What about learning how to make the perfect omelet? Youtube!

  • Want to learn about sports or finances or current events from people who are passionate about their areas of expertise? Podcasts!

  • Want to hear about innovative new projects and ideas while gaining fresh perspectives from some of the most brilliant minds of our time? Ted Talks!

  • Want to hone a specific skill with the curriculum-style format you’re familiar with? Check out free courses from places like Udemy, EdX, and Coursera!

*Uncommon Team Experience Plug*

  • Want to know how Katie first learned how to wrap gifts? You guessed it - Youtube! And now it’s second nature for her to whip together a beautiful package for a photoshoot, a loved one’s Christmas gift, or our Uncommon Acts of Kindness winner!

  • Janie and Jordan LOVE Kid President for his encouragement and motivation! If you’re looking for something to put a smile on your face and hope in your heart, Kid President is where it's at!

And this is just scratching the surface! There are quite literally countless ways for you to find the information you need online to hone your expertise or to develop a skill from scratch. Dive deep into the free spots listed above, and let us know where else YOU like to search for this type of information!

Join a Professional Organization...

It's more fun than it sounds!

Professional organizations in your field can really help to keep you abreast on the information that is truly relevant and pertinent to you. These types of groups also offer some “softer” benefits, like getting your name, face, and work in front of the right people who can help you make the moves you want for your career. For us designers, for instance, this can mean becoming involved with:

  • The American Society of Interior Designers

  • The International Interior Design Association

This could also mean looking into specialties and specific areas of interest within your field, like:

  • The US Green Building Council

  • The National Kitchen and Bath Association

*Uncommon Team Experience Plug*

  • As a registered nurse, Jasmine is part of the Minnesota Board of Nursing. Even better, she took things a step further and became coding certified through The American Academy of Professional Coders!

These types of organizations provide support in so many ways, including online resources, continuing education seminars, networking opportunities, and local and regional events. Your employer may also be willing to reimburse you for memberships, continuing education courses, and event registrations. Um, yes please!


We know, we know! It may not seem like the most innovative way to go about this, but it provides the opportunity to learn in a structured environment, which can be super valuable. Whether or not the classes you select are directly related to your field, they can be an extremely rewarding way to learn new information.

  • Want to learn how to cook an authentic Italian meal? Or at least how to not ruin your attempt at an Italian meal? No judging!

  • Want to earn your photography certificate?

  • Do you want to brush up on some of the new software being used in your field?

*Uncommon Team Experience Plug*

  • Janie really takes the cake on this one. Just this past year, she earned her Masters in Literacy Education and Reading Licensure K-12 through the University of MN! Ow ow! She loved the program, and she loved that she could continue to work full time as a first grade teacher at the same time. You go, girl!

  • Sal has also dabbled in some classes, including introductory courses in photography, as well as creative writing. Both are passions of hers that she wanted to explore further, and now she’s putting some of it to good use by … writing this blog. Whaaaat?!

Seek out ways to take these classes either a la carte, or as part of a program at a local technical college or university. Find something that works with your schedule, in a format that works for your learning style, whether that be in person or online.

Conferences (Not the Stuffy Kind)

These can be a great way for you to hear about new ideas, see new products and demonstrations, and meet a TON of amazing new people. Oh, and you will likely get some sweet swag throughout the event. Free t-shirt?! Well, okay then! Global, national, regional, and local conferences host speakers and showcase the latest and greatest that each industry has to offer. Here are a few that we have attended over the years:

  • NeoCon in Chicago

  • Design Expo in Minneapolis

  • Story Conference in Nashville

Do you know what makes it even sweeter? Volunteering your time to help coordinate or otherwise serve the conference attendees. You’ll likely get some behind-the-scenes insights and meet some truly inspiring people.

*Uncommon Team Experience Plug*

  • Katie and Sal had the incredible opportunity to do some prop styling as part of the creative team for Story Conference in Nashville this past September. It was SUCH an inspiring week, and we were able to work alongside passionate creatives and meet some amazing people (like Brad Montague, the creator of Kid President!), all before the awe-inspiring conference even began! We laughed, we built, we created, we sang along to an original song by a sweet retiree named Martha, and we love every second of it!

Get Moving!

While we love being stretched intellectually, some people learn best by putting their body in motion. Sitting in a classroom has never been their scene, and sitting at a day job may be just as grueling as an adult. For those of you who can relate, this one is for you! Try:

  • An improv class

  • Get some friends together to start a rec or bar league in a sport you may not excel in, but that you’d love to practice

  • Sign up for lessons in a sport. Maybe tennis or golf? Whatever floats your boat!

  • You can even try something like curling on a Saturday afternoon, for goodness sake! And maybe take home a gold metal in a few years?! Just saying!

  • A dance class - even if you can’t dance! All the more reason to give it a shot.

*Uncommon Team Experience Plug*

  • Sal joined a beach volleyball league with a group of friends she met through Habitat for Humanity. Every Monday night last summer was a chance to get together, have fun, and MOVE! Not a bad way to start the week!

  • Want to fly solo while you’re doing something active?! Janie also loves doing some at-home workouts with PopSugar. It’s a great way to keep working toward your goals when you just want the convenience of being in your own home. Or, when you’re taking cover from the Minnesota snow!

Did we mention we love learning stuff like this?! And seriously, when you’re busy learning something new, your mind will find innovative ways to think about the things you already do every day. And again, you’re also already learning something else! Win, win, WIN.

At the end of the day, these resources are already available to you, and they can be the vehicles that bring you closer to your dreams. Or, you can just vow to learn something new because you find it interesting and cool and there is no grade or goal associated with it. There is no need to let lack of experience or knowledge hold you back in anything. You’ve got this!

Class dismissed!

The Uncommon Team

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