Skills and Habilities in the XXI century.

So I’m back to writing tonight! And even though the topic might sound a bit strange, trust me, it’s going to be interesting!  Come, my friend, wander with me into a small peek, a glimpse into the future, into what’s coming (and no, it’s not winter…)

So, this week I finally landed a really nice job at a really nice company (not to brag about it). It’s only been a couple days, but i have good vibes on this one. Answering to many of my friends, what this company does is manage software projects for other companies, by hiring remote independent programming teams across Europe. Whatever software a company needs (a phone app, a website, a video game…), this company finds the human resources across the globe (including latin America) and develops whatever software it is they needed.

Helping people develop software from places all across the planet seems pretty wizard to me. The wonders of remote decentralized groups of people working together through the internet fascinate me in ways I cannot begin to describe.

When I was young, the future I pictured looked nothing like what I am living right now. To be fair, I didn’t picture future that much, I was young and possibly stupid, I lived for the moment, studying just enough to pass all of my exams and had as much fun as I could. I studied boring subjects and attended boring lessons throughout my entire life. I sometimes look back at myself studying and wonder how could I put so much effort into something that bore me so much.

I was blessed enough to be able to attend an English Speaking school and University. I learned maths, and science, and programming, and Algebra, Algorithmics, a bunch of things that sometimes came in handy, sometimes it didn’t. I scored good enough grades to obtain all my degrees and diplomas. It never motivated me much, but I had been told (with good thinking) that was the way to lure my way into good jobs and earn a good living.

Studying computer science was also something that came in very handy after the Spanish economic crisis. Thanks to my language and computer skills, I was able to find good jobs with relative ease, whilst many of my friends had harder situations when it came to jobs. For you, my foreign friends, I cannot stress how bad the situation got ( and to a good point it still is). I don’t want to talk about politics or discuss who really is to blame for this, you can find many answers just by googling with some interest for a bit. What I do want to remark is how fucked up the situation got in such a short amount of time.

Many of my friends had also studied and obtained different degrees in History, Law, Psychology, Teaching, Business and so on. Many even had one or two master’s degree in some specialization. However, one out of every two young friends of mine between 20 and 30 years old was unemployed or remained unemployed for a large period of that time. To make it even remotely better, the salaries (compared to the living standards) were low enough to make buying a house almost impossible. The Spanish economy was crumbling, and its citizens were crying with rage and despair. A big generation just forgotten, left to themselves.

All of them had been told to study, to take good practice in their C.Vs. If they studied hard and obtained nice degrees, they would gain good jobs that would allow them good money that would allow them to live like their parents did. That’s what we were told, and for all the degrees we obtained, we never got what we promised. Probably the most qualified and prepared generation in the entire history of my country left hungry and stripped from their opportunity to thrive.

The funniest thing that I can recall about all of this, is that in none of my recent jobs, I’ve ever been asked to show proof of anything I studied or degree I achieved. I just proved I knew what I said I knew, and they were happy with it.

And this has gotten me thinking. I’ve just landed what might be the best job in my working career so far and they didn’t really ask for any of my qualifications? That’s odd, why did I study so much algebra or biology for?

This is what I want to talk about today, we live in a world where information is so abundant, that studying has become something relatively cheap! 100 years ago, only the most fortunate got access to top of the notch information or studies. Nowadays, everything about everything is just seconds away from a couple of words typed into google your web browser. I cannot believe how much the internet has helped me develop all of my skills. I would have not become a decent programmer had I not had so much information at the tip of my fingers. And most of these skills I didn’t learn in university but by myself.

To be honest, other than a couple lessons attended in college, I must say over 70% of what I studied in university hasn’t really been useful at all in my life, and, seeing my path as it unfolds, I doubt it ever will. But still, it was my diploma what got me so far and landed me these good job opportunities, and nobody has ever asked me “Hey Juan, about that nice university degree of yours you are bragging about in this post… why don’t you show it to us?

Nope… We are so fixated in “doing what’s right” and attending schools and lessons, that we sometimes don’t really realize how useless many things we do in life are! Now, I know that many of you might say that everything you learned in college (or most things) were very useful. And I’m not going to discuss the importance of university degrees in today’s (yes, that’s the point) world, but after having seen how a bunch of people can earn a good living just with a bunch of computers and an internet connection, and also help employ over 100 people along the way, I wonder why we are still so fixated in the way we did things last century. (open your eyes!)

I learned to program at college and I learned English at School. I don’t need much hindsight to see those have been two fundamental pillars in my education. But learning Italian was also useful, and I did that for fun when I was in Rome. Web development I also learned by reading through the internet, I learned to manage software projects by working as a freelance, I didn’t have to pay to learn that, I just lived my life. I learned to have a good working discipline from many of my friends and coworkers. Life taught me so many more things than college or schools and diplomas!

The information age is here, and it’s only been  34 years since the internet was born. Walk into an age where the internet has been around for 100 years! Imagine being able to see your grandparents Facebook and you’ll get there. We are already in a world where you can learn anything you need with the click of a button. The world is connected, and there are thousands of online websites and courses that you can do, and thousands of ways you can learn things around your area. People post all sorts of skills on the internet.

We are walking into a world where you are not going to be asked to show them degrees and diplomas, but to show them what you got. Yes, surely diplomas and certificates will be around for quite some time, but when you go to an interview and are asked about your English level, you’ll either have it or not. If your skills are good enough they won’t mind the diplomas (unless you are trying to work for government agencies.. funny how bureaucracy works).

  • Learn languages, it’s very easy to at least try. Meet foreigners, invite them to be a part of your life. Learn from them and their cultures. There are thousands of websites like duolingo to train yourself. I can’t stress this enough. They will always be useful, they will make you stand out from other potential candidates to a job you apply to!
  • If you are reading this The internet is yours to use, find local places where you can learn stuff that you really enjoy. Make new friends and learn from them.
  • Attend courses you really want to do. Don’t worry so much about titles as long as you can prove people what you can do. I studied abroad and I learned Italian because I wanted, not because the course told me to. And that has been proven to be a really useful skill. Work hard, impress your friends and coworkers, they will be your best references.
  • Nourish from everything you do in life, no time is lost if you learned something from it. And the things you love to do are always the best things to do. Working with All Hands I met so many people who had learned the impressive things they knew how to do just by working, living and experiencing, and they were amongst the healthiest happiest and warm giving people I have ever met.

Maybe I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, maybe the world still needs to mature a bit more for this to properly happen, but not that far off. As always, take everything I say with a pinch of salt and I know it sounds stereotypical, but always follow what your heart really tells you. The perfect job is one that you’d pay to work in. The perfect skills are those that will land you that perfect job.

Until then, see you around!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *