Employable for the Next 20 Years

What you see is a photo of a particular kind of lottery ticket. The most common lottery ticket of all. A losing lottery ticket. All of the lottery tickets I have ever bought have been losers. Thus I go to work. I have a good twenty years or so left in my career and so I continue to pay attention to the industry trends that affect my ability to work.  Hadoop/Big Data has been just the type of trend I’ve been observing for years and believe may well hold the key to that need to be employable for another 20 years.

I started off in the late 80’s early 90’s and two trends of the time left indelible marks. The first was the flattening of management structures in corporate America. Middle managers were being layed off right and left. The second was the transition from mainframes to client server architectures and the rise of the PC. The age I am now was the age of a lot of COBOL programmers back in my formative years. They were losing their jobs and I met so many that didn’t even want to learn something new. It was almost as if life had done them wrong for the technology they made their living at decline so rapidly.   I remember as at the time I was a dBase, Foxpro, Clipper programmer doing the tech interviews for these older gentlemen.

I had deeply ingrained in me the need to always be able to do the work, and to be able to do the work for which corporations were paying good money. I was fairly deft at moving into client server databases, web development and business intelligence, each in their turn.  It hasn’t been hard to understand that Hadoop/Big data is one of those trends that will make or break careers. I’ve been looking for my opportunity to climb aboard for several years. Finally the opportunity has come and I am jumping in with both feet to make sure that I have made the transformation while I can.

Hadoop/Big Data technologies are no longer cutting edge. Already companies are demanding a couple year’s experience. Big data won’t replace traditional relational databases completely. What you will see is that new “investment” money companies are spending is in the big data technologies. The RDBMS is rapidly becoming legacy. Every COBOL programmer didn’t lose their job and not every RDBMS professional will. However, I like to put my career into the places companies are investing in rather than in the “support costs”. Five years from now the big data technologies will be at the center of corporate budgets and finding work without those skills will be difficult.

That’s my read of the market and so this is my journey. I firmly believe that teaching is an integral part of the learining process. I invite you who are thinking along the lines that I am to join me. I’ll share what I’m learning and try to help shorten the process for you. If several people also join in with me we just might create a vibrant community.

What it took to get us to where we are is all we need to have to succeed in this transition. Big data is a significant shift but it’s not harder than anything we’ve already learned.


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