How to future-proof your tech career

by Ana Lopez

Opinions of contributing entrepreneurs are their own.

One of the major shifts we are witnessing is the disruption caused by evolving technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain. While they are far from being perfectly refined, we are already seeing greater use of AI and blockchain-based innovations across industries.

Add to that the cyclical nature of the economy – the current downturn and inevitable workforce cuts – that have many tech professionals, like myself, wondering what their careers in tech will look like in five to 10 years.

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There will inevitably be a shift towards automation of simple tasks in user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) development and design. Neural networks trained on huge datasets will significantly speed up and simplify the work of engineers and even replace some of those engineers to some extent.

To stay in demand, I think it becomes essential for tech professionals to broaden their horizons, including deepening their knowledge of higher mathematics to help improve their skills for solving complex architectural and scaling problems. It’s already important to come up with creative solutions and solve tasks in an unorthodox way, but the trend to value out-of-the-box thinking will, in my opinion, only get stronger in the future.

For example, the most in-demand skills in 2020 were cloud computing, artificial intelligence, analytical reasoning, people management and UX design, according to research by LinkedIn. These skills are expected to remain in high demand as technology advances and organizations look to leverage innovation to drive growth.

However, just having these competencies is not enough, as your skills and knowledge need to be constantly updated to keep pace with the ever-evolving technology landscape.

Learning new tricks

To stay ahead, tech professionals must be proactive in their own continuous learning and professional development.

For example, platforms such as Coursera, Udemy, and Codecademy offer a wide variety of courses ranging from beginner to advanced that can help tech professionals brush up on the latest technologies and best practices. In addition, attending industry events and networking with colleagues can provide valuable insight into the latest trends and developments in the field.

Learning does not have to be formal or certificate-based. Most importantly, a person should have a thirst for knowledge, a desire and drive to become a better version of themselves every day, and an understanding of advanced math and similar STEM disciplines as a strong foundation to continue with future build skills.

Screen soft skills

In terms of future-proofing your tech career, I’d like to emphasize that soft skills are almost as important as hard skills or technical knowledge and skills specific to your field. Soft skills refer to the personal traits and qualities that are important for working effectively with others. These include communication, problem solving and leadership – all are essential to future career development.

When interviewing candidates for positions at FunCorp, a developer of entertainment technology products, including apps for meme lovers, certain soft skills are key to success. We look for people who enjoy creating and are not just focused on completing the tasks set before them. We also want the type of person who is focused on continuous personal development with the passion and drive to keep learning and evolving. This type of person will make sure they keep learning to make up for any gaps in the hard skills they may possess.

Staying motivated

If you strive to be a professional committed to continuous personal development, you can go a long way. Motivating yourself to keep learning and improving your technical expertise can also be a challenge. Fortunately, several strategies can help.

Setting specific and measurable goals for yourself is a great way to stay focused and on track. For example, you can set a goal to complete a certain course or certification by a certain date, or you can aim to attend a certain number of industry events each year. Breaking bigger goals into smaller, more manageable tasks can also make them less daunting.

Another effective strategy is to find a community of like-minded individuals who are motivated to learn and grow. Sharing progress and setbacks with them can give them a sense of responsibility and motivation. Reward yourself for completing tasks or reaching milestones. Constantly remind yourself of the benefits of learning and improving your technical skills, such as more job opportunities or a higher salary. Preparing yourself for a brighter professional future should be a great boost!

It is also important to find the right learning methods that work for you, such as taking online courses, attending workshops or regularly participating in online forums relevant to your specialization. Keeping yourself abreast of the latest trends and what’s happening in the industry can help you stay motivated and engaged. But it’s also essential to take a break when you feel burned out and revisit your goals from time to time with fresh eyes.

After all, nothing is certain when it comes to thinking about and planning for the future after 2023. Despite the recent turbulence, I think the tech sector is still the place to be. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment opportunities in computer and information technology occupations is expected to grow by 11% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all other occupations. So the demand will be there as long as your technical and soft skills are kept up to date and well aligned with the ongoing technological advancement.

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