The New American Job: Hybrid Careers

As a child, John Halamka was passionate about science and electronics. In 4th grade, he presented a home-built Van de Graff generator at his school science fair and took home first place honors. Fast forward 30 some years, and Halamka, now Dr. Halamka is the chief information officer at Harvard medicine school. Dr. Halamka is not only the acting CIO, but is also a practicing emergency-ward physician and electronic health records advisor for the Obama administration.

Dr. Halamka’s career is what labor experts are now calling a “hybrid career,” a career that fuses computing with other fields. And, as computing knowledge becomes more of an integral part of many professions, the “hybrid career” will be the job of the future.

These future jobs will require more multi-disciplinary, technologically knowledgeable, “cool nerds” like Dr. Halamka and because of this educators and technologists are calling for a reform of computer science education beginning in high schools. The focus in high school computer courses has traditionally been on teaching students how to use simple software like word processors and spreadsheets. For students to enter into the “hybrid careers” of the future, more emphasis needs to be placed on programming as opposed to writing word documents.

Says Alfred Spector, vice president for research and special initiatives at Google, “we need to gain an understanding in the population that education in computer science is both extraordinarily important and extraordinarily interesting. The fear is that if you pursue computer science, you will be stuck in a basement, writing code. That is absolutely not the reality.”

Kira Lehtomaki, like Dr. Halamka, pursued a hybrid career. A Disney animator, (she “sketches” her drawings on a computer by using specialized graphics and software) Lehtomaki credits her longtime love of both art and technology to her success in the digital animation field. Lehtomaki noted that “computer science taught me how to think about things, how to break down and solve complex problems.

This “computational thinking” is aiding advances in “field after field” and calls to attention the “broad reach of computing across the sciences, industries, culture and society.”

Teaching groups, organizations like the National Science Foundation and the Association for Computing Machinery and companies like Google, Microsoft, and Intel are recent additions to the movement and hope to help reform not only high-school computer courses but also higher education computer courses and programs. The groups are also advocating making technology and computer education more widely available through online courses and online instruction.

Careers After 50: The Value of a Temp Job!

Careers after 50: developing appropriate experience to qualify for a planned career.

You’ve researched and studied a variety of proposed new careers. After speaking to others working in the field you’ve narrowed your list down to one or two possible new careers. However, you’ve found both require specific experience that you need to acquire.

Other qualifications for a new career after 50, for example, can be learned through self-study, distance learning, formal education and working with mentors. However, now you have the dilemma of getting the necessary experience to qualify for new career.

Let’s suggest a way to put you in a position to successfully compete for job in the new changed career. You might want to consider working for a temp agency, to get some desired experience or to discover if the suggested career is right for you.

Ask around for referrals to the right temp agency. Some temp agencies are specialists only working with specific careers and industries.

Re-draft your resume to put your best foot forward depending on the career and job. For each career you might want to restrict only signing up with two or three temp agencies. As you progress and learn more about specific temp agencies you can adjust your focus so you are only working with the best agency relative to the planned career.

Make it a point to see the temp agency recruiter, have a face-to-face interview and learn all you can about their services. Don’t forget this is a job interview and you want to show the recruiter how you would present yourself to a prospective employer.

Find out in advance if you are required to show specific technical skills at the temp interview and spend some time brushing up on the required skills prior to the interview.

Do some research regarding prospective wages you might expect. You’ll probably be asked what wage range you would accept. Also, you should learn what possible benefits might be available.

Many times temp assignments can last six months or longer. Be sure to tell the temp agency the length of assignment you would accept.

If the temp job is in a career you wish to qualify for, you may leverage yourself into being offered a full- time position. Or you gain enough relevant experience to qualify for a full-time career with another employer.

Don’t expect that you’ll be immediately moved into a desired temp position. Continue to contact the temp agency, at least once a week, to let them know you’re available for placement.

So the value to you using a temp agency in qualifying for a new career after 50 is: (1) Gaining required work experience, (2) Possibly being offered a job in the desired new career, (3) Bringing in some income while you prepare to change careers, or (4) Finding out the new career is not for you so you can research additional opportunities.