How do I get training to be an excel-lent employee?
July 31, 2008 11:09 PM   Subscribe

I'm a quick learner of computer programs... but am currently looking for a job and am realizing that I need excel training... (another of the things I really should've studied in college.) Any recommendations on where to get training in New York City?

Because I'm looking for work currently, free is better than expensive... but inexpensive might be swingable. I'd like recommendations on places you've worked with or studied with before. I'm not at this point looking for a full blown certification.

I will take the NYPL class, but it's only two hours...

Bonus: I could get a book and work through stuff, but I think employers might look favorably on the initiative of taking a class. Plus I don't have access to excel to work on at home. I have google docs, open office, and Microsoft works spreadsheet, but not the full-blown excel.
posted by J.R. Benedict to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
spend your money on buying excel and then make a bunch of fancy spreadsheets and teach yourself how to use it. It is quite simple. A course that runs you through all the available features, or a book, would perhaps speed your work. Employers will be less impressed by a course than by a true statement that you are fluent in excel.
posted by caddis at 12:08 AM on August 1, 2008

Doh... it looks like there's a free 60-day trial with full functionality. Anyone want to suggest a book then?
posted by J.R. Benedict at 1:28 AM on August 1, 2008

When I had to start making budgets a couple months ago, I taught myself the basics in a few hours, just using the program and working with the help files and various online resources. A course means nothing, just get a hold of it, install it, start learning it.
posted by Meatbomb at 1:52 AM on August 1, 2008

What Meatbomb said. The reason that class is only two hours is that two hours is all takes to get the basics.

If you are angling for positions that require certification, get the certification. Otherwise, lie. When you get to something that you can't figure out from the menus and the online help, claim that you weren't shown that bit.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:55 AM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

Local community college? My local colleges have all sorts of options for these kinds of things, including distance learning and accelerated learning things that you could knock out in a few weeks and have a certificate at the end.

If you're just looking for a big picture concept of it so you can say you have "some experience" with it, yeah, just download it and play with it. It is, in essence, a bookkeeping tool. There are two "phases" of using it: create a template for where your data goes and how it's calculated. And then you enter data and it will automatically calculate the results you programed it for. Knowledge of math and accounting are just as important.
posted by gjc at 7:35 AM on August 1, 2008

I've heard similar advice in the past: "Just start playing around with it, and build some sheets and models to get a hang of the features". But for someone with no programming experience, this isn't very helpful - I don't have a bunch of data sitting around that needs to be analyzed. Are there any good resources that take you step-by-step through a typical task that you would perform with excel, so that you learn by doing?
posted by btkuhn at 11:33 PM on August 1, 2008

btkuhn: make a little budget table for your household (even if you don't really need it).
item    cost      paid by btkhun   by Mrs btkhun   etc     total  % btkhun   % by Mrs  etc


Start learning how to make cells do the calculations - the program should do all the math, you are just adding the "item" "cost" and "paid by" data.

Start adding in more stuff as you get used to it.
posted by Meatbomb at 11:39 PM on August 1, 2008

Do yourself a monthly budget and play with that - the data can be your bank statements...there's a lot of good free basic guidance around as well (google excel guide) which will help with basic functionality...that would go a long way to give you some understanding and if your next job requires regular excel use you'll learn anything else you need to know as you go or may be able to get some training. If on the other hand you are going for positions which require very high level of excel proficiency chances are that you haven't actually got the right experience profile for that role as excel has been around for many years.
posted by koahiatamadl at 11:07 AM on August 2, 2008

Thanks guys! I actually work in an investment bank, and it's pretty much expected that you be extremely proficient in excel. However, the first (trading) desk I worked on we didn't use excel almost at all, and I've been nervous because I'm moving to a new desk soon and they're going to think I'm a moron if I'm not at least familiar with the application...

If anyone is still reading this thread, any suggestions for learning all the various keyboard shortcuts? That seems to be the threshold at my firm - to get good enough so that you don't need to use the mouse at all.
posted by btkuhn at 7:43 PM on August 2, 2008

In a bank setting I wouldn't call you a moron for using a mouse, but I'd be perplexed that you couldn't whip up a spreadsheet to calculate the value of a bond. I imagine filtering and using pivot tables would also be pretty common. I would be devoting my time to understanding the financial functions before I worried about keyboard shortcuts.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 8:07 PM on August 2, 2008

I think you may find value in
posted by joemako at 11:27 AM on August 11, 2008

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