Crossroads

At the intersection of technology, finance and the Pacific Rim.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Career Advice

This is from Robert Schiller, Economist at Yale University. Quite insightful career advice:

In their recent book The New Division of Labor: How Computers Are Creating the Next Job Market, economists Frank Levy and Richard Murnane, using job descriptions that go back to 1960, carefully classify jobs according to the kinds of cognitive skills that they require. They were particularly interested in identifying jobs that were routine, even if complex and difficult, which could in principle be replaced by a sufficiently well-programmed computer. They then show evidence from the United States that jobs involving both routine manual work and routine cognitive work have become much less plentiful in recent decades, and that these jobs have indeed tended to be replaced by computers.

In an important sense, their research confirms that my students are right to be worried. But these trends tended to persist within occupations, industries, and educational attainment levels, thus providing little guidance concerning what occupation to choose or how much education to pursue. The important issue, according to Levy and Murnane, is that the most promising future careers will be those grounded in either expert thinking or complex communication skills.
Expert thinking means understanding how to deal with new and different problems that do not fit the mold of past problems. Complex communications skills entail understanding ideas, how to evaluate their social significance, and how to persuade – tasks that no computer can accomplish.
As long as young people direct their efforts accordingly, they can acquire these skills in virtually any of the major courses of university study. Moreover, those who would like to devote their college years to acquiring technical skills in a narrow field that they love would be wrong to conclude that they must give up their dream. Specializing in business, finance, or law does not really protect one from commoditization. People in these fields are ultimately bought and sold by corporate managers as much as people in technical fields. Hardly anyone makes it all the way to the top in the business world.

The important point for students to bear in mind is that they should motivate themselves to attain deep understanding, not rote memorization, of the subjects that they study, in order to fulfill the role of a true expert in whatever field they ultimately choose to pursue. At the same time, they should invest in acquiring the communications skills that will be similarly crucial to a successful career.

To read the full article, go to this link.

2 Comments:

Blogger Jinwoo IM said...

I think this article is really necessary for youths. Even though I can understand the things this article says, it seems to be difficult to attain those kinds of deep understanding. Probably, it needs some time.

11:51 AM  
Blogger ky choi said...

Deep understanding on certain subject requires real devotion and sacrifice. I'd refer myself as a generalist in my field rather than a specialist in certain subject. Do I miss someting in there?.

10:07 AM  

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