Career Development

The New Generation of Career Paths

Technology has not changed the hammer or the monkey wrench. It has not changed home building radically, although design work has changed over the years. Truck drivers still climb into the cabs of trucks and hit the road, much as they have for eons. Cooking is still cooking. Bar tending is still bar tending. Building a road still requires hot tar and a shovel. Some things never change.

But technology has created a whole new universe in the job market that your grandfather and maybe your father would not recognize. The Internet itself is only 25 to 35 years old, depending on what you understand to be its starting point, and until the Internet came along, the personal computer was not a mandatory household item. Within a few years, the computer was losing popularity, as mobile devises began to proliferate.

The evolution of technology has enormous repercussions for lifestyles and the job market. It is well known the Beatles upended the music industry with unprecedented record sales, but it is not often noted that the transistor radio and lightweight phonograph equipment made music in the home much more affordable for the masses. The Beatles wrote music. But companies like Sony were positioning groups like the Beatles to become household names.

Newer technology seems focused on changing the job market. Yes, we all own CDs now, instead of records, or download music onto mobile devises, but the music industry was not otherwise altered much by the upgrade to digital electronics.

New technology jobs include game development, information technology, and directors of social media. If you review jobs for journalists these days, you find the traditional, low-tech outlets, such as The New York Times, are struggling to maintain their place in the age of the Internet. But jobs for social media directors are all over the map. News outlets need technicians and strategists who can make use of Web sites like Twitter and Facebook. But so do hundreds of companies who are bringing advertising dollars back in house, publishing their own content marketing stories that were once the domain of the world’s daily newspapers.

The healthcare field is bursting with new career opportunities, thanks to technology and to basic industry expansion.

Who ever heard of biobanking of biological material 15 years ago? But now there are cryogenic banks for freezing biological samples long term and tissue banks that specialize in short-term storage and transportation of human tissues. Even traditional jobs like nursing are affected by technology. Consider minor changes such as electronic medical records to  more advanced changes such as enhanced diagnostic devices, and in the future, potential robots to assist lifting patients! Jobs for nurses with an MSN are plentiful but don’t think technology won’t change even some of the most traditional career fields

One list published by US News of “The 100 Best Jobs,” includes 10 jobs that did not even exist 20 years ago or were in their infancy. That’s 10 percent of the best jobs that very few people could have named at the turn of the century.

In my high school days, computer programmers were a handful of select math students – maybe five or six of them – who once a week took a field trip to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology carrying thick reams of punch cards that were read by computers the size of a half a wall in an average classroom. The punch cards were fed to the machine, which picked them up and scanned the punched holes. From this, simple algorithms were written. A triumph included telling the computer to do simple division. From there, the students tested their programming skills with more complicated formulas. I always imagined that these five students were now running the world or at least some multi-billion dollar corporation.

At my last high school reunion, I discovered that this wasn’t the case. None of those students are computer-programming billionaires. But some of them do own companies and they’ve carved careers out of market space that did not even exist when they were using punch cards. To many people, it may seem that they are involved in careers that incorporated science fiction coming to life.

This is a guest post from B. Wilcox.

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