Careers 101: The Choice of Two Futures

Careers: What is Your Choice?

I’ve always been fascinated by science fiction stories. I love the tales that take place in future Utopian or Dystopian worlds. One theme that strikes me as odd and often appears in sci-fi is the dichotomy between classes. The upper class is often portrayed in their high-rise buildings reaching into the upper atmosphere, living on vast satellites that orbit earth or a far off planet. On the other hand, the underbelly of society is portrayed living in trashed buildings or sewers and gutters underground.

I used to dismiss this as a writer exaggerating feelings of inadequacy or a tired trope about rich versus poor. Today I accept this as a valid prediction of mankind’s future.

When I think about the communicator on Star Trek (cell phones) Minority Report’s virtual display of computer screens or even Rosie the Robot from The Jetsons, I wonder if science fiction writers are as much prophets as scribes of fantasy. Have they pulled a Nostradamus and predicted our future economy, technology and societal norms? Have they, then, accurately predicted the demise of the middle class and the rise of the poor huddled masses that was once America’s bastion of hope?

 What Career Choice Will You Make?

If we accept that mankind is headed towards an apocalyptic future, don’t we owe it to ourselves to course-correct? As I see it, we have two choices. We can either join the poor masses or raise ourselves up.

How do we choose the latter? How do we ensure that we don’t end up in sewers and gutters underground? Work. We must choose a career that is valuable, current and desired by others.

The reason data entry jobs were in high demand 20 years ago was because we didn’t have the technology to automatically capture the information that made business work. Today we provide that data ourselves via web forms and programs that translate voice to text. We’ve done away with hand written forms and moved to digital forms.

What happened to the data entry experts of yore? They either adapted to the changing world and adjusted their careers or lost their jobs.

The Great Recession was a perfect example of how many companies leveraged technological advancements and laid off hundreds of thousands of “worthless” employees. I use the term “worthless” because, from a business standpoint, those employees cost more than the value they add. Like a bucket with a hole that’s never full, an overabundance of employees makes a business unprofitable.

What Can You Do?

You’ve decided to rise to the occasion and not be dependent on the government, family or friends. You want to thrive. You want to prosper. What will you do today to ensure fifteen years from now that you’re prospering?

The world continues to change faster and faster. Do you continue to educate yourself? When was the last time you improved your career skills?

Do you have access to education? You likely do. Your employer likely offers in-house training or funds a Tuition Reimbursement Program. Don’t miss out on these dollars or let your colleagues surpass you. Talk to your boss about education opportunities that they would find valuable and useful.

What if you don’t have access education at work? There are numerous, free online classes through universities (i,.e., Harvard’s free, online classes), non-profit organizations and government entities. All of these classes help you to grow. It’s your growth that makes you more valuable and more employable. It’s what will set you apart from your co-worker that punches the 9-5 and then hits the couch.

 If you aren’t technically adept, learn new technology. If you are, stretch yourself in new ways that you know will be useful to your career. Here are a few tips:

 1.  Learn advanced skills with Excel or Access (data is the new corporate currency)

2.  Learn how to create workflow diagrams through Visio (as more processes are changed from being manual to automated, someone needs to document the process)

3.  High-tech manufacturing programs such as CAD (if you’re already in manufacturing, learn what it takes to more to the next level)

 The list above is technology specific and I’m sure you can think of ways to grow that are more specific to your career. The opportunities are out there. You just need to take them. Whether you take them or not may determine whether you wind up in the high-rise buildings reaching into the upper atmosphere or in the sewers and gutters underground.

David Auten and John Schneider are The Debt Free Guys. After paying off over $51,000 in credit card debt, they have dedicated themselves to helping people live debt free, have fun and be Money Conscious. They are the authors of 4 books including 4: The Four Principles of a Debt Free Life available on Amazon now.

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