Saturday, April 9, 2011

Good Career Advice...

Scott Adams (creator of Dilbert) isn't just a cartoonist, he's a first-class observer of modern humanity.  In this article at the Wall Street Journal, he's got some of the best advice I've ever seen for young people preparing for a career.  Much of his advice is applicable during a career as well, so there's something for everyone in the article.  Some elements of his advice one can see in my own career.  For example, I'd say that learning to write reasonably well, and learning how to be unafraid of public speaking, have both done more for my career than any particular piece of techncial learning.

But the strongest resonance for me was his advice that most people should emphasize acquiring multiple skills rather than trying to be world-class in any particular skill.  Oh, yes – for me this advice has the strong ring of truth.  Over the years, I've acquired a strange collection of knowledge and skills – designing concrete mixes, writing software, corporate accounting, back-end stock trading processing, designing electronic hardware, some civil engineering, slide rules, optics (especially as it applies to photography), cryptography, and a bunch more.  I'm no world-class expert in any of these areas, but the fact that I have a smattering of them all has been incredibly useful in my career.  It also has done something else that Scott doesn't mention: by practice and example, it gives me great confidence that I can learn how to do just about anything – and even that is very useful in a career.

So go read it, and pass it along to anyone you know who might be able to use some good career advice.

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