Creative career planning 101

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They always tell us that the jobs of the future haven’t been invented yet. I always wonder — who is going to invent them? Jobs certainly don’t come from the magical job tree in the sky. They are the result of people creating the conditions for them to exist. There are new opportunities being created directly or in the margins all the time.


With an awareness of what others are doing and probably will be doing, we can create our own ideal jobs of the future! It can be a useful exercise to anticipate what might put food on your table in 20 years. I like to do it by wildly ideating. These are my top three career options for the “knowledge economy”:


<strong>AI/Robotics Lawyer: </strong>I&rsquo;m in the cognitive science program. I know what they are doing over there. Here it is in two words: conscious robots. Remember Asimov&rsquo;s Three Laws of Robotics? Who&rsquo;s going to put them to practice? We&rsquo;ll need robot lawyers. Robots and artificial intelligence are starting to take a more important role in our lives. They are displacing tasks traditionally done by humans and introducing new sorts of human-computer interactions at a faster rate than ever. We are going to need people who understand enough of the science, engineering, and law to know whose fault it is when a robo-car goes rogue.


<strong>Ecological-Institutional Economist: </strong>It seems fairly inevitable that the twin environmental issues of climate change and biodiversity loss will come to a head in a super-obvious-to-everyone crisis. There will be an acknowledgement that the proverbial stock market has really crashed. The rapid implementation of extreme adaptation and mitigation policies will be led by the superpowers of the day. Everyone will follow suit. It will be the start of a &ldquo;New Green Deal<em>&rdquo; </em>set of programs and institutions. There will be huge demand for public policy makers with new ideas at all levels of government everywhere. People who can think up and implement innovative institutional reforms will be in high demand.


<strong>Edupreneur</strong> (I like buzzwords as much as the next Waterluvian): To be completely cynical, one day this tuition bubble is going to pop. Maybe it will happen in the US first, but there will be a tipping point where a fee increase is simply not accepted by prospective students. They will question the value on the dollar of what they are getting in the true homo economicus manner. In anticipation these floodgates opening, there&rsquo;s an opportunity to create alternate pathways of accreditation and education. Entrepreneurs should get down to the core value proposition of what it means to be educated. There&rsquo;s always money to be made in alternatives that accomplish the goal at a much lower cost. It might be an apprenticeship program with digital badges and massive open online course-based local discussion groups. A big part of any alternative&rsquo;s success will be in its marketing and advertising.


There&rsquo;s an example of a career brainstorm. Maybe these are all way off the mark, as predictions usually are, but ideating is a chance to find opportunity. Novel ideas seem to be both absurd and obvious in retrospect. I like to build off the absurd to create the obvious of the future.