4 Things You Need to Know to be Totally Future-Proof at Work

We’re all guilty of having those little panics when we worry if we’ve chosen the right career direction. It’s tough to know exactly what you want to do once your time at college is up, I mean, what if you have a sudden, random urge to move into another field? You’ve already switched your major twice.

In addition to that, new research from the FYA has recently revealed that a whopping 60% of students could in fact be chasing roles that are likely to be obsolete within the next 15 years thanks to technology.

It is now more important than ever to make yourself as indispensable as an employee as humanly possible, and that process begins now.

Eleanor Roosevelt warned us that ‘today is the oldest you’ve ever been, and the youngest you’ll ever be again,” which – albeit terrifying – certainly does get us pulling our socks up.  With the tech landscape moving at speed, it helps to have a few basic skills tucked into your tool belt to avoid the phenomenon known as ‘If only i’d known about this earlier’.

Here are 4 of them…

1. Basic Coding

Computer coding is now being taught at schools as standard from as early as ages 5 and 6. It is a skill soon to be considered as intrinsic to education as math and grammar, yet still one that many of us (namely those above the ripe old age of 5) missed the boat on.

Whilst we may be slightly more tech-orientated than the previous generation, we stand to be just as alien to the coding phenomenon as our parents are to Snapchat, which with more than 7.7 million jobs in the U.S requiring complex computing, poses a bit of a problem to those not versed in even the basics of computer science.

It’s now not even a skill written off as solely for future programmers or software engineers, but instead a universal, and a very necessary lesson in computational thinking, problem-solving and systematic ‘if logic’. Having a basic understanding of code will vastly increase your potential to be a valuable asset to a team, and keep the mind agile enough to bridge potential tech skills gap a little later on.


2. An Understanding of Languages

Thanks to technology, certain skills that were once necessary to business – such as quick arithmetic, thorough organization, or language translation – can now be done with the click of a button. While there’s no arguing that does make things easier, it also means that these skill sets are now much more of a rarity.

Speaking another language has been shown to improve perception and sequence memory, as well as the brain’s ability to multitask and concentrate. Listing even a basic founding of another language as a skill indicates to an employer that you are not only competent, but actually something of an investment.

Why? Because there is significant demand for individuals that understand the fundamental difference between translating a language and communicating it. An individual that can engage in real-time, and build a rapport with foreign partners will outrank someone clutching Google Translate every time.

3. A Little Science

Qualifications rooted in science (or STEM degrees as they’re known) have been deemed the most future-proof according to Alec Ross, author of ‘The Industries Of The Future’ – a sentiment also echoed by the UK Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan.

However, even if you’re not planning on following the footsteps of Newton or Einstein, exploring an interest in science hones an inquisitive nature which drastically improves reasoning and your ability to rationalize. Think of reading up on something Science-y as diversifying your skill sets.

In recent years many corporate companies have made it their mission to recruit more art graduates to avoid ‘linear thinking’ in the workplace. One savvy events company then combined the skills of a creative and a science brain to automate their entire birthday marketing campaign. If you’re an arts graduate with an interest in science, you’re the best of both worlds. You’ll not only be able to contribute creatively, but also demonstrate great awareness of the future business landscape and pitch equally outside of the box ideas. That sounds like one very enticing hire indeed.

4. The Importance of Adaptability

Exposure reduces fear. This is proven practice and a principle often used to treat anxiety and phobia. This goes to say that individuals who actively seek to push their boundaries of comfort, and remain in pursuit of new challenges, experience less fear in new situations than those that don’t. This is because of what psychologists and scientists refer to as ‘muscle memory‘. Turns out your brain needs to be exercised in the same way that you practice your tennis swing.

In the interest of becoming future-proof, the most effective skill we can hone is the ability to thrive in the unknown. Attend a talk on a subject you nothing about, or actually read that article you would previously scroll straight past. Keep the mind agile and inspired by new stimulus, because those that maintain the brain’s ability to adapt will be more confident approaching what the future has to bring, and be more responsive to change.

After all, remaining future-proof is about continuing your self-education – even after college. Listen to a TED talk, subscribe to an educational blog, watch the occasional YouTube tutorial and keep your eyes on the education category of the App/Play store. Your future-self will thank you for it.

By Indiana West
Indiana West