It’s been said that there’s no professional out there today who doesn’t make spreadsheets.
We’re all doing it, but most of us aren’t very good at it. We know the basics—that Excel exists and it’s a more logical way to visualize information compared to a simple word document.
The problem with Excel is that it’s becoming a highly sought after skill in the workplace but most of us don’t get any formal training on it. We learn by watching others or by fumbling around with simple formulas and figuring it out ourselves. As a result our Excel skills never consolidate—we don’t know our gaps or what level of proficiency we really have.
Over the years I’ve learned Excel piecemeal to solve whatever issue I was facing at time—how to store large amounts of research data or how to solve complex finance problems I came up against in business school.
I’ve wanted to consolidate my Excel skills for a long time. I’ve had various unsuccessful attempts at it over the years. Specifically I wanted to plug my knowledge gaps, learn more advanced skills, and learn more of its time saving shortcuts.
I found an online in Coursera called “Excel Skills for Business Specialization” that changed everything. It consists of four courses ranging from essentials to advanced. Each course consists of six weeks worth of videos and exercises to work through. Depending on the complexity and your level of proficiency, you can work through a single week of content in a few hours or less. The fee is listed as USD$49 but you can audit the courses for free.
Here’s what I got out of it:
The benefit of having someone methodically explain Excel’s advanced functionality, like advanced formulas and sophisticated lookup functions
Building on core skills I already had and showing me what an advanced skill looked like. For example, I knew how to build a dashboard but I didn’t really know how to properly automate one.
The courses present simplified business scenarios in order to teach you the skill. It’s now up to me to take these new skills and figure out how to apply them to real-world, more messy scenarios I come across at the office.
The learnings and confidence boost I’ve had from completing these courses has been phenomenal. I finally, finally (!) feel like I’ve genuinely improved my Excel skills. I find myself wanting to hunt down spreadsheets to fix and structuring advanced formulas in my head because, well, it’s kinda fun, no?