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Opinion Editorials

Where in the world will your college major take you?

(OPINION EDITORIAL) College degrees determine a ridiculous amount of your life, what should you do when you’re ready for a pivot?

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Career paradigm

There is, if that’s what we’re calling this, a silver lining to the downfall of the career paradigm. First, let’s be good little cognitive agents and define our terms. When I say “career paradigm,” I mean the thing your grandparents may have told you about: go to school, acquire skills and credentials for a thing, then do that thing until retirement.

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For any millennials or younger in the audience, feel free to take a minute to laugh, cry or both as appropriate. Everybody back? Cool. Let’s talk college.

Multiple bosses

Unless you’re reading this through a time machine (send specs!) you’re not going to have a lifelong career doing one thing for one employer. Just not how the 21st century does business. Us kids these days don’t have careers. We have skills.

That can be a colossal pain just coming out of college.

Let’s be real: how many of y’all took your first job because it was the only thing on offer, or because it was the best in a field of not-best for someone with a degree and no experience? I’d do a “Just me?” joke here, but it wasn’t, and frankly, it’s not funny.

For an awful lot of us, graduating college pretty much meant a piece of paper that said we were employable, and a whole lot more paper that said we’d be in debt until the stars die. For a smaller but non-negligible lot of us, only one was telling the truth.

But as it happens, things get better. The great thing about college, whether you’re attending or re-attending, is that it provides you with means to pivot.

Post college ch ch ch changes

Pivoting is our topic for today. If you’re looking for a change in career, your major isn’t just a credential. It’s a skillset. In an economy based on frequent changes of job, career, straight-up profession, knowing and growing your skillset is what will keep you in food and shelter for the foreseeable.

Indeed recently ran an excellent article about how to make that kind of career change work. It breaks down professions by choice of major, focusing, not on the stereotypes (science majors work for other scientists; humanities majors teach humanities) but on strategies for turning various degrees into profitable, sustainable work.

My degree, I swear by your deity of choice, is in Shakespearean theatre. What I do now is not. You may have noticed.

Thing about theatre, though: it teaches you to talk. If you want Shakespeare to make enough sense to a modern audience that they’ll pay for him, you need to be an expert communicator. Now I do that for a living, backed up with a hopefully endless supply of anecdotes, asides and goofy references I got from learning how the Bard did business.

So when the grind threatens to grind you down, remember: I was supposed to be declaiming in tights.

Now I tell the Internet about Linux distros. Not a lot of Linux in Shakespeare. But mastering the latter gave me a foundation for the former. It provided the skillset.

Different strokes

Your thing might be math. If you want to work in the corporate world, that might sound like accountancy. That works. But if you’d rather not, try cash management, or shoot high and be somebody’s CFO.

More artsy? We may be running short on chapel ceilings to paint, but composition, spatial awareness and a visual vocabulary are the exact skills you need for the vast array of opportunities in graphic, industrial and UX design.

Education? That one might seem like a straight pipeline into some level of academia. Nothing wrong with that. But if it’s not your jam, try consultancy.

Real talk: consultants are just teachers for grownups. So are corporate trainers.

The jobs I’m listing all have two things in common: they suit the skills of the major in question, and they pay better than $50,000 a year.

You got this

To state the staggeringly obvious, I did not pull down 50 Gs as a stage actor. I had to go a long way out of my comfort zone, and even further out of my predicted career path, to find a living wage.

If I can do it, best believe you can too. The only trick is to assess what you’ve learned and what you’ve done in the context of skills.

#skills

Matt Salter is a writer and former fundraising and communications officer for nonprofit organizations, including Volunteers of America and PICO National Network. He’s excited to put his knowledge of fundraising, marketing, and all things digital to work for your reading enjoyment. When not writing about himself in the third person, Matt enjoys horror movies and tabletop gaming, and can usually be found somewhere in the DFW Metroplex with WiFi and a good all-day breakfast.

Opinion Editorials

If Reddit goes IPO, will it have to shed its soul?

(EDITORIAL) Reddit is known as a firebrand, a bastion of free speech, but if they go public, will they be able to remain as they are now?

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Reddit, the eighth-most popular website on the Internet, is reportedly considering an IPO. As a site valued at over 1.8 billion dollars, this is great news for the company itself – but how much of Reddit will remain if the IPO goes through?

Reddit’s history is steeped in controversy, from minor incidents such as invasion of privacy and a few creepily quirky community members to allegations of child pornography and egregious hate speech. While Reddit’s policy has allowed it to tighten posting restrictions regarding the latter two, the fact remains that Reddit – for all its usefulness – is viewed by many as a ticking time bomb.

An IPO would certainly lend back to Reddit a degree of credibility not seen since its inception, but the problem is that Reddit itself (the haven of free speech and original content that made it so popular in the first place) might not survive the offering. Given the platform’s controversial past, many believe it likely that stakeholders would move to tighten further the restrictions on the platform, ultimately ending a significant era in Reddit’s history.

Admittedly, Reddit has come a long way since its early days of supporting user-created content regardless of persuasion: this past year saw entire subreddits shut down for violating the terms of use regarding hate speech, and the platform certainly has cracked down on illegal and abusive content. Unfortunately, the history might be too much to shake off going forward, which is why we think that Reddit’s branding won’t be a part of the final IPO.

The platform’s developers’ dedication to free speech and truth-seeking is what makes Reddit so fantastic, and that’s not liable to change – it’s the most marketable aspect of the site, after all – but perhaps the rationale behind going public lies in a sense of duty rather than routine. 2017 has seen some of the most reprehensible instances of false reporting and deliberate misguidance in recent history; maybe Reddit’s team feels that they can provide a stable news platform at the cost of some personality.

At any rate, the IPO itself isn’t set in stone, and is unlikely to take place for quite some time. As the situation develops, it will be interesting to see if Reddit embraces its past, or sheds it altogether.

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Opinion Editorials

‘Follow your passion and the money will follow’ is bulls**t advice

(EDITORIAL) Following your passion can create success, though it may not be financial. So should you really just “do what you love” and hope for the best?

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If you asked anyone who knows me, they would tell you that I’m a strong advocate for people following their passion. However, when I encourage people to pursue their dreams, this comes with a big asterisk.

I recently heard someone use a phrase along the lines of, “if you do what you love, the money will follow.” Um… no.

While it’s great that you’ve found something you’re passionate about, that’s only a trillionth of the battle. You need to be willing to work your ass off and be willing to sacrifice everything in order to make that enthusiasm into a success.

Most people that have started their own business will tell you that it took a while into the process to begin paying themselves. Again, if it truly is your passion, this is all worth it in the end. But if you like food and shelter, it might not be.

Say, for example, your passion is acting and your goal in life is to become a famous movie star. Now, you can’t pull a Tobias Funke and simply say, “I’m an actor” and then expect everything to miraculously fall into place.

Like any other passion, you need to invest in yourself. You’ll need to get headshots, take acting classes, and find a flexible day job that allows you to go on auditions. Cutting corners on any of this in order to expedite the process or save a few bucks will end up hurting you in the long run.

For the sake of this article, let’s define “passion” as loving something so much you couldn’t imagine doing anything else… you would even do it for free. And, as there is no correlation between having passion for something and money, you just might.

While doing what you love is admirable, be aware that it may take an incredibly long time to see results in the form of numbers. Because of this, it’s wise to always have a back up plan to support yourself financially and pursue passion with a strong business plan in tact.

It is never wrong to want to follow your passion. I personally think that everyone should give it at least something of a shot during the course of their career so that you never ask “what if?” But following passion because you read a cliche statement can lead to major financial and emotional losses, so put on your business hat before blindly chasing dreams.

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Opinion Editorials

Tech CEO tweet ruins years of a young designer’s hard work

(EDITORIAL) With a tweet here and there, thoughtless questions have potentially bullied a young Asian woman in tech out of her career.

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It’s hard enough for women, particularly women of color, to make it in the world of tech, without rude jerks questioning if you literally exist.

Sadly, that’s what happened to Naomi Wu, also known as “SexyCyborg,” a 23-year old cyberpunk superstar from Shenzhen, China who has amassed a huge following for her 3D printing experiments and other techie pursuits. Wu has 140,000 followers and millions of views for her YouTube channel, where she shows off her experiments and provides educational tutorials.

Unfortunately, some rude dudes from America can’t seem to imagine that a young Asian woman is capable of the feats that Wu has accomplished.

Dale Dougherty, CEO of the DIY magazine Maker (and an official schmuck), has cyberbullied Wu so badly that it is said to have damaged her career. He tweeted, “I am questioning who she really is. Naomi is a persona, not a real person. She is several or many people.”

This despite the fact that Wu says that she has actually spoken to Dougherty, and that he knows she is real. “For Westerners who don’t understand the important of reputation in China it seems like a very minor thing,” says Wu, “it is everything here and there’s no repairing this.”

Wu has even lost a sponsorship deal from a 3D printer company over the accusations that she isn’t who she says she is.

Dougherty eventually apologized, but Wu says that “the damage had been done” at that point, and that Dougherty knew the accusations would be “devastating” to her “reputation and professional prospects.”

Wu says that the attack is motivated by white male entitlement to tech spaces.

She says that she can’t imagine Dougherty attacking “a white lady from San Francisco.” Wu has been an advocate for diversity in tech and maker spaces. “I kept pushing for more inclusion – not just me, other underrepresented people,” she says. “They didn’t like being pushed. This is payback.”

We stand behind Wu as she continues to push the edge in tech spaces, and say shame on you to bullies who won’t make space for women and racial minorities. Sorry you’re not as cool as SexyCyborg, but that’s on you and you need to get over it.

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