I am approaching the end of my career (perhaps 4-7 years left). My children and several of my co-workers ’ careers are starting to gel, so I’ve been giving lots of advice in recent months, including someone I think I’m seriously going to mentor at work. (Not only is she an awesome talent in her own right, but her husband (active NAVY) is an FRC alum, and her father is teaching her 5 year old daughter Python. How cool is that? Yeah, I’ve invited her and her daughter to Beach Bot Battle.) Anyway, on to what you probably want to do with your life. In my experience, it all comes down to four things:
- Figure out what you love to do, [or at least like to do and is marketable].
- Get good enough at it that someone will pay you decently to do it. Develop your skills, hone your tools. Tools include everything from understanding your craft from first principles so you can deal with totally off the wall problems, to programming languages, excel-fu, project management, and so forth. Get good enough at enough stuff that you aren’t scared of any problem that comes your way.
- Stay relevant. Learn new tools, at least fast enough to stay ahead of obsolete tools.
- Have a family. This doesn’t have to be people genetically related to you, it could be a circle of really close friends, a church family, an FRC team, or something that only makes sense to you [think of the close of Lethal Weapon 4 here].