I keep up on economic news and job news for this blog. I read technical reports and follow trends. I talk to people at conventions and online to find out about their career concerns and fears and successes. I want to be the best at what I do here – being the geek job guru.
I began noticing as I did this there's another motivation coming in there, one some of you may also experience, but not admit.
I want to keep up with things because the world is changing so fast I want to know what is still relevant to people, especially the younger people, I speak to and coach.
The world is changing insanely fast. If you told me five years ago everyone would want an Apple Phone, that Apple's major phone competitor was Google, and that the big gaming trend was online far animals, I'd never have believed you. With so many changes, I want to know what's up so I know what actually matters to the progeeks, profans, and those who read this blog.
These changes have vastly changed opportunities and career patterns as well. I was a psych major who got retrained in computing and wrote his first professional programs in Visual Basic – I can't even think of an equivalent of that now, fifteen years after I did it. How people start their careers has changed, and I want to keep up on those changes.
The problems of today are different. The Savings and Loan fiasco of the 90's seems like nothing compared to the financial issues today. I couldn't imagine some of the bizarre infrastructure upkeep issues facing cities and townships these days. The consolidation of megaregions and the issues of urban location are different from what I saw – and believed – when my career began.
It's strange to watch the changes occur while I work to make sure what I do here, at conventions, and in my other progeek endeavors is useful to people. I find myself having to ask what lessons I can share that are timeless, what are relevant – and what are no longer relevant to those I try to help (if anyone). I feel an odd sentimentality about my past experience, and more concern for those facing building a career in these challenging times.
So I work to keep up and learn, to apply and transmit and to talk. It's what I do for, well, everyone out there reading this, and it's certainly gotten crazier over the years.
Someday, you, my young readers, will be in my position. It may be five years from now or ten years or twenty or more, but you will be here. You will be working to make sure that you have the relevant knowledge to help those you wish to aid in their careers. You'll have to ask what you know that is no longer relevant and what is still true. You'll also feel a bit of sentimentality over the past parts of your life that now aren't relevant to those you wish to help.
It's worth it – indeed every time I finish a presentation or get a comment or coach someone, it's worth it. But keeping up with the issues of careers is a case of finding what is relevant and what is not, and it never ends.