Repeat after me: Your college major doesn’t determine your career path

How can we talk about college in a way that doesn’t imply graduates will be set on the path of a lifelong career based on their major?

A college major isn’t the sole factor that determines your career. Our careers are multifacted. They’re shaped by new work experiences and the skills collected along they way, as well as life events, curiosity, people we meet, and more.

If you know a college student who is stressed about which major to choose, share the tweet above. Grant it, that won’t help the stress about which job will pay off students loans (that’s another conversation) but at least we can reframe the conversation that a college degree is only the first step in a life filled with career learning.

Automating all the jobs

Whether you are a grocer, doctor, factory worker, or journalist. All of our jobs will soon be reshaped by automation. Some will benefit from the new work that will emerge. And others will watch their jobs disappear with no clear path to another livelihood. Managing this transition will be the defining challenge for us in the decades ahead. And we need to be ready for it.

Rage click response: Why remote work can be f*cking great for your career

Last month I rage clicked on the article by Suzy Welch, Why working from home can be terrible for your career. I’m so glad I did because I’ve been meaning to write about why remote work is so good for your career.

For media companies looking to stand out in the attention company, getting a well-known Leadership & Management Expert to write on today’s hottest topic, remote work, is a smart move. Brand name + trendy career topics = clicks. And getting that expert to write that remote work is “terrible for your career” is sure to bring in a few rage clicks.

Telling people that remote work will kill their leadership opportunities feels like a desperate attempt by out of touch leaders to stop a generational shift. Flexible work hours, which includes remote work, are the most sought after perk in the workplace. Millennials are leading the charge for more flexible work policies.

But they aren’t the only ones. Spend any time in a Facebook group for moms, travelers, and anyone other community who’s population is still required to show up for a 9-5, and you’ll see post after post of people asking how to get a remote job. Drop into the #digitalnomad or #remotework hashtag on Insta and you’ll see the cat’s already out of the bag. Remote work is fucking great for your career and those of us doing it know it.

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Didn’t see this coming: Facial recognition at summer camp

I spend a lot of time reading and writing about AI in the workplace which means I spend a lot of time reading about AI in general. But I wasn’t at all prepared for this:

Now hundreds of summer camps across the United States have tethered their rustic lakefronts to facial-recognition software, allowing parents an increasingly omniscient view into their kids’ home away from home.

If you just yelled what the fuckity fuck when you read that quote, than you’re really not going to like the article, As summer camps turn on facial recognition, parents demand: More smiles, please. The article details how summer camps are using facial recognition tech to keep parents up to date on teens often without their kids knowing it.

I spend a lot of time reading about AI products and their impact on society, but using facial recognition on teens at a summer camp (and a phone-free one at that) so companies can sell fear and anxiety to parents who then transfer that anxiety right back onto their kids, really caught me off guard.

If this fires you up, follow @ruchowdh and @hypervisible on Twitter.

Excellent analysis by @drewharwell – “Some of the kids… are so accustomed to constant photography that they barely notice the camera crew.” – we are acclimating the next generation to a surveillance state.— Rumman Chowdhury (@ruchowdh) August 9, 2019

Then read Shoshana Zuboff’s new book surveillance capitalism.

AI as flirt coach?

“It coaches you on what to say on the [first] call,” he says. “Some of it will encourage you to be calm. Some will give you specifics into what kind of person they are, like ‘traditional’ or ‘modern’ lifestyles.”

AI could be your wingman—er, wingbot—on your next first date

Another example of AI teaching people skills. So curious how it feels to be coached by AI. Using AI to coach people on people skills total flattening of the range of ways to interact with people.

And if someone doesn’t know how to engage on the phone, how will they do in person?

Also have they made sure teh person writing the scripts for these interactions actually has people skills? I wonder what that would look like in a job description.

LinkedIn Course Syllabus: How to Upskill Yourself

Let’s address the elephant in the room first: LinkedIn is one of the least exciting places to spend your precious internet time. There’s good reason for that: it’s just a mixed bag of self promotion, #humblebrags, and weird nudges from LinkedIn to congratulate people you don’t know on their new job. There is far more interesting content to explore elsewhere on the interwebs.

I get that. I’m not here to convince you that LinkedIn is great. Instead, I want to make LinkedIn more useful for you. Whether you’re scanning LinkedIn because you need an escape from your job or because someone told you to be on LinkedIn because networking, I want people using LinkedIn to learn something tangible that improves their career situation.

For the month of August I’m teaching people how to upskill. Upskilling is the process of learning new skills to improve your professional life. It’ll also help you stay relevant in a rapidly changing workforce. With so many ways to learn new skills, from digital bootcamps to certificates to online courses to YouTube, figuring out how to make it work for your career can be a challenge. I’ll teach you how from LinkedIn.

This will be an experiment on my part. I wrote a book about upskilling and career changes, so I’m bursting with useful content to share. I’ll be using some content from my book, as well as videos, podcasts, and other media I’ve collected about upskilling and career changes along the way.

There’s no homework for this course. But you can still participate. Follow along and if you have a question or want to share your experience, comment on the posts. I’ll answer your questions.

Below is a syllabus for the themes I’ll cover each week.

Week 1

  • Upskilling: Nailing down a definition
  • Not just the robots: Why upskilling matters (hint: it’s less about robots and more about changing business models)
  • How to upskill: Bootcamps, online courses, and DIY learning, oh my!
  • Upskilling for career changers

Week 2

  • Power Skills: The skills employers want most
  • Evaluating upskill options: Online Courses
  • Evaluating upskill options: Bootcamps
  • Evaluating upskill options: DIY Learning
  • Evaluating upskill options: Workplace Learning

Week 3

  • Upskill now: Highlighting interesting courses and opportunities to get you to upskill this year
  • Skill-building bootcamp showcase
  • Online courses showcase
  • Open learning resources
  • How to find workplace upskilling opportunities

Week 4

  • Crafting a personal learning syllabus
  • Using the 2×2 method to keep you relevant in your workplace
  • Embracing career changes and skill building as the new model for career success
  • Wrap up and next steps

I encourage you to send me questions, ideas, programs you like, and more LinkedIn. Feel free to connect with me with a message letting me know you’re interested in following the Upskill Yourself experiment.

And if you’re curious about how to upskill and change careers, I’ve got just the book for you.

Could LinkedIn be a teaching platform?

In my last post, I wondered if people considered LinkedIn a learning platform given their immense collection of online training for the workplace.

Now I’m thinking about the flip side: is LinkedIn a teaching platform? Could it be?

One of my LinkedIn contacts frequently teaches in his updates. He stands out from the rest of my contacts in that he’s not just promoting himself (or sharing those terrible #humblebrag stories.) Instead, he teaches and when he does, I learn things.

Most of his content is related to data analytics, a subject I’m super interested in. I’m currently studying Python for data analysis and contract for an AI startup. So I found it mighty helpful when he shared this:


And I really enjoyed learning new vocabulary and concepts from the post below, even though it’s still quite advanced for me.

He also shared a helpful tip for job seekers:

His content stands out from everyone else in my network.

I thought about him as I was writing the post on LinkedIn as a learning platform. When I asked in a Facebook group whether or not LinkedIn is a learning platform, two responses reminded me of him:

I learn a lot from my connections on LinkedIn but it’s their content, not the platform, that initiates this. LinkedIn needs a lot of work!

You can find people from which you can learn but it’s not the main focus of the platform

I wondered: could LinkedIn be a teaching platform? And would it be a more valuable place to spend your internet time if it were?

I’m not referring to teaching a course on LinkedIn learning. I’m interested in using LinkedIn to teach a subject using updates, videos, and shared content. What would it look like? Would people engage? How would they engage? I teach a variety of subject in workshops, webinars, and online courses. I’m curious what it’d look like to teach using LinkedIn.

This isn’t a new concept. I see career coaches occasionally teaching on LinkedIn.

I’ve just never tried it. I’m a power user on LinkedIn and I share articles of interest frequently. But I’ve never tried using it as a teaching tool. I’m interested in intentionally tried teaching a subject, planning a curriculum, and seek out diverse resources for people to explore on a given topic.

So I’m going to try an experiment on LinkedIn. For the month of August, I’m teaching people how to upskill.

The term upskilling is a phrase thrown around casually in organizational development and future of work circles. Upskilling is mostly focused on managers who are deciding between hiring new people or training existing employees to adapt to new business models. However, there isn’t much coaching for the actual workers who are trying to figure out how to reskill. From evaluating bootcamps, to selecting online courses that build digital skills, to finding ways to up your skills at work, upskilling is still a relatively new concept to many.

So I’m going to teach it. I spent a third of my book teaching people how to upskill. I’ll use that as my framework and content for teaching the subject on LinkedIn.

Since this is an experiment, I’ll document along the way. If you’re curious, follow me on LinkedIn and participate.

You can check out the syllabus for Upskill Yourself here.

Is LinkedIn a Learning Platform?

Full confession: I spend more time on LinkedIn than Instagram. My friends make fun of me when I tell them this. It’s embarrassing because LinkedIn is easily the least exciting social platform to spend your precious internet time on. But I speak and write about emerging careers and trends in upskilling, so LinkedIn is part of my daily internet consumption routine and embrace the awkwardness of it.

This week LinkedIn popped a recommended course into the top my feed.

That action reminded me that LinkedIn has an entire catalogue of courses on offer, a fact that I’d totally forgotten. Clearly this was the intent of the designers. They wanted to remind users like me that LinkedIn isn’t just a place to read professional #inspo stories of people you don’t know.

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Top 10 interview questions to ask employers in the age of employee surveillance

Percolata, a Silicon Valley company that counts Uniqlo and 7-Eleven among its clients, uses in-store sensors to calculate a “true productivity” score for each worker, and rank workers from most to least productive. – A Machine May Not Take Your Job, but One Could Become Your Boss

employee monitoring

Employee surveillance is all the rage in 2019. Advancements in facial recognition technology, wearables and sensor data, data analysis and machine learning, have created a rich product landscape that makes it easy for your employers to track you at work and outside of it.

The market for Employee (Automated) Monitoring Solutions is around $1.1 billion but analysts expect it to grow to about $3 billion by 2023. That’s a whole lot of worker spying headed our way.

Amazon is the most enthusiastic and well-known employer to embrace employee surveillance technology. They routinely subject their warehouse employees to a brutal work environment in which everyone is tracked, measured, and pushed to meet ever-increasing metrics. The mindset seems to be that any moment spent not producing – whether its going to the bathroom, saying hello to a coworker, or taking a moment to think – is money stolen from the company. The result is a hellish place, in which workers suffer from depression and injuries, creating a corporate culture of distrust.

employee monitoring tools
Hubstaff, an employee monitoring system, allows managers to see your work as you do it.

Employee surveillance tech is hot hot hot

If you don’t work in an Amazon warehouse it’s easy to think that surveillance technology is a world a way from your workplace. But you’d be wrong. Gig economy workers are already managed by algorithm, with plenty of tracking and nudges to get workers to obey the algorithm and keep working.

In fact, companies use of employee surveillance technology is only growing:

Last year, the research firm Gartner found that more than 50% of the 239 large corporations it surveyed are using “nontraditional” monitoring techniques, including scrutinizing who is meeting with whom; analyzing the text of emails and social-media messages; scouring automated telephone transcripts; gleaning genetic data; and taking other such steps. That’s up from just 30% in 2015. And Gartner expects those ranks to reach 80% by next year. – Workplace tracking is growing fast.

Employee surveillance technology is going to make your worst manager even worse. Employers are collecting increasing amounts of data about you, both at work and outside of work. The data is fed into algorithms designed to categorize and analyze you. The result is delivered on a dashboard, accessible by your boss and leadership. The data your produce, and the decisions made based on that data, are rarely shared with with you, the employee. Sometimes your data is shared with third party companies.

employee monitoring tools
From the Teramind website: “Teramind monitors all employee activity covering 12+ system objects like: web pages, applications, email, console commands, file transfers, instant messaging, social media, keystrokes, clipboard, searches, printing and even on-screen content (OCR) in real-time.

Choose a company that trusts their employees and respects your private data

Now that employers are highly invested in monitoring their employees habits it’s important to know just what kind of culture you’re headed into as you search for new employment. It’s unlikely employers will play up their use of employee surveillance tech on the about page (algorithms aren’t so photogenic after all). Ensure you don’t end up working for a company culture that breeds distrust or puts your personal data into the hands of a bad manager or third parties by asking the right questions.

We all know that asking questions as the end of the interview is a smart move. It makes you look informed and engaged. Use this time to ask the hard questions about employee monitoring.

employee monitoring tools
employee monitoring tools
From Cognito’s website: Cognito detects human signals and provides live behavioral guidance to improve the quality of every interaction.

Employee surveillance interview questions

Here are the top interview questions to guide you in your search for a company that both trusts their employees and cares about your data privacy.

Will my productivity be measured by an algorithm? If so, what metrics will I need to meet to ensure I am rated successful by the algorithm?

Are sensors used to track the physical location of employees? If so, what type of data is collected?

Will I receive performance feedback from my manager or an algorithm?

Are terminations determined by a human or an algorithm? Are promotions determined by a human or algorithm?

Will my emails be reviewed by algorithm and scored based on sentiment? Who will have access to those scores?

Does your company have cameras in the workplace? Will my manager have access to these feeds?

Is facial recognition used in the workplace? If not, are any other biometrics collected in the workplace?

Does this company collect data on my habits outside the workplace (fitness levels, eating and sleep habits, etc). If so, who will have access to this data?

Is health and fitness data used to inform promotions?

Are the company’s wellness programs opt in or opt out? Will I be financially penalized for opting out?

What is the company’s position on employee monitoring?

The future of work is not set in stone. We don’t have to trade our personal data and privacy for a job. Asking questions about data privacy and surveillance monitoring helps us push back on invasive tech and data privacy violations in the workplace. You deserve to work in a place where you aren’t monitored continuously. Find those companies and champion them.

If this article is your jam you’ll definitely like my book. It’s jam packed with upgraded career advice to navigate a new world of work. Sign up to get on the list to get notified when it’s published.

Burn the career ladder down it doesn’t work anymore

That’s a snippet of the advice I shared during my guest appearance on Your Confident Self podcast.

I had such a ridiculously fun time talking with the delightful host and coach, Allegra Sinclair. I could have talked with her for hours.

In the episode, How to Take Control of Your Career and Remove Fear, I shared all the things about how the world of work is changing, whether robots are taking all our jobs, and why the career ladder is dead.

Give the episode a listen and then subscribe to her podcast for more goodness.