How to Acquire Successful IT Skills without Spending a Penny

The Information Technology (IT) field has always required workers to remain current with the latest technological advances in order to maximize their marketability. As a result, in today’s IT market, you may need to become an expert almost overnight, in order to not only stay competitive, but maybe even to keep your job. How can you accomplish this, especially in light of the declining economy and shrinking IT training budgets?

This article will explore many of the educational opportunities that are available right at your fingertips, at no cost, which can help close the gap between where you are, and where you want to be.

Here is a list of the some of the more popular free training opportunities available.

IBM Education Assistant

Are you aware that IBM has put together a collection of online multimedia educational modules that are designed to help you gain a better understanding of their software products, and to help you use them more effectively to meet your specific business requirements?

On the IBM Education Assistant website, you will find presentations, demonstrations, tutorials, including all notes and audio files, just like would if you were sitting in a real classroom. The only difference is that you are not paying thousands of dollars to attend, and you can complete the training, for free, from your office or the convenience of your own home. Hundreds of IBM products are covered in great detail under the IBM Education Assistant. Give it a try, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised that all this training material is available at no cost whatsoever.

IBM Wildfire Workshops

Another training opportunity for IBM products involves taking advantage of the free IBM Wildfire Workshops. These are usually three-day training classes located onsite at an IBM facility which cover a wide variety of subjects. It’s important to note that you’ll need an invitation from your IBM account rep in order to secure a seat, though as an added bonus, up to three people from your organization can also attend for free, which also includes free food during training sessions. For offerings in your city, please check this website on IBM Sales Training Program Courses.

IBM zEnterprise Technology Summit

If you work in a large shop that is running zEnterprise, you can take advantage of another IBM complimentary training session called ‘zEnterprise Technology summit’. This one-day event is packed with information on how implement zEnterprise’s unique capabilities into a private cloud, aimed at saving money, decreasing risk, and increasing your business’s agility. Technical sessions are grouped into six tracks that are delineated by topic and job responsibility, in addition to a full day’s agenda of in-depth sessions about the latest software technology, and how it can help you address specific IT issues and concerns. These sessions cover a wide range of topics, including information on zEnterprise hybrid computing solutions, CICS TS, DB2 for z/OS, WebSphere Application Server, WebSphere MQSeries, IMS, Linux on System z, Rational Development tools, and Mobile & Cloud development.

This event is offered in different cities throughout the country. Take a look at this link for details

Get Involved in User Groups

Another opportunity to stay current without spending a penny is to join a user group that is of specific interest to you. For example; if you live in Chicago and are interested in Cloud Computing using WebSphere, you can join the Chicago North-West Integration and Cloud Computing WebSphere User Group. There, you can take advantage of their free events, presentations, Webcasts, and the opportunity to exchange ideas with other professionals in your field.


Did you know that you can obtain complimentary passes to 4-5 days conferences, as long as you are willing to become a speaker? Why not share your experiences, while simultaneously learning about the latest cutting-edge IT solutions?

For example; you can take advantage of IBM’s annual IMPACT conference, which is scheduled to include more than 900 sessions this year, and is designed specifically for IT and business leaders. IBM understands that in order to effectively lead in today's economy, organizations are especially focused on combining technology with their businesses in order to promote innovation and drive growth. See more details at the IBM Impact 2013 Global Conference website.

All you need to do is commit to presenting at a minimum of one session, and for IBM to accept your proposal.

Another benefit of attending the IMPACT conference is that customers can take two certification exams for free, which offers around $400 in savings, when compared to those taken outside of the conference. Obtaining certifications not only increases your marketability, but they also show your current or future employer that you are serious about your IT career.

IT Journals & Redbooks

Take advantage of many complimentary IT journals and publications. You can usually sign up for daily or weekly updates from various publications, as well as receive invitations for free Webcasts. Here are just a few examples of publications you may want to look into:

If you need in-depth technical information on a particular IBM technology, don’t overlook

IBM rebooks, which are available online or for free download. In addition, IBM White papers can be found.


I personally used all of the above IT training opportunities to advance from a Jr. Systems Programmer, to the Lead Systems Architect I am today. My “recipe” for success is to take advantage of every learning opportunity available, and to have a passion for what you do. So dream BIG, believe in your abilities, and stimulate your mind daily by learning something new.

  • April 30, 2013

Elena Nanos

Elena Nanos has 30 years of experience in infrastructure support, system architecture, integration, and middleware planning, implementation, and support. She is an IBM and TOGAF certified Infrastructure Systems Architect, certified solution expert in Dynamic Infrastructure implementation, CICS Web enablement, WebSphere Application Server ND administration, and MQSeries. She has published numerous technical articles and has presented at IBM conferences.


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