Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Take Charge of Your Career

Recently a high school student sent me some questions which boiled down to:

Which computer career pays the most money and has the most job security?

I was floored.

Job security?

Does this 16 year old kid write term papers on a typewriter? Call her friends on an AT&T Princess telephone? Twirl a hula hoop? Listen to a transistor radio?

Make the most money?

Does anybody really give credence to those tables showing that in Boise ID the average programmer makes $1543 more than the average network engineer?

Who cares? Do you want to be average? Is anybody average?

The truth is, although it'd be irresponsible of me to have advised her to study COBOL, she'll make the most money at whatever career she most enjoys, given some reasonable demand for it in the marketplace.

The more she works at giving her employers her best, the more money she'll make.

The more she uses her skills to solve more problems for more people -- and this can and should be some activity far beyond normal employment -- the more money she'll make.

Chances are, by the time she graduates from college the highest paying computer skill will be something nobody outside research laboratories has yet heard of.

In the long run, she'll make as much money as she sets out to make. No more and no less.

Some computer programmers are now on welfare.

Bill Gates is the richest man in the world.

The more you *create your own job* -- whether you're formally an employee or not -- the more security you have.

In THE MILLIONAIRE NEXT DOOR, Thomas Stanley and William Danko compare the "security" of employment with the "insecurity" of self-employment.

Work for a company and you get a paycheck at regular intervals, as long as the company needs you, does not go out of business and is not merged or bought out by another company.

The owner of a pest control business has irregular income, but from maybe 1000 or so different customers.

If one of those customers moves away or switches to a competitor, the pest control owner still receives income from the other 999.

Given reasonable management and marketing, pest control businesses will survive as long as the world contains mice, roaches and other bugs.

I wonder how many Enron employees now wish they were pest exterminators?

Techies who understand they must constantly search for new ways to help people -- whether employers or customers -- will make a lot of money in this the third millenium.

Techies who just want management to leave them alone to code in peace will have a niche when the economy is booming as in 1999. In bad times . . . .

If you want real job security, own your own company.

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