A friend of mine asked me to speak with his son about career choices since he will be graduating high school soon and is worried about choosing a college major…

I told him that selecting a career path based on what is “hot” and paying well now is not helpful as things will change in the five-plus years he will be in school.

I explained that a more helpful way to look at his future was to first consider his abilities, appetite for risk and what does he want his future to look like -- and then work backward.

Did he want an assured stable income and excellent retirement benefits? Then government service is certainly an option. Did he want to be an entrepreneur and build his own company? Then creating an educational safety net would be helpful.

I told him not to think in terms of jobs but in terms of functions that can be capitalized. That the key to fame and fortune was to "find a need and fill it." And, that he would be best served by developing productive life habits instead of concentrating on goals which will change over time or, once completed, must be replaced by new goals.

And, as an exercise, I asked him to rank these functions…

People who manage people.
People who make connections – facilitators.
People who raise money.
People who sell things – communicators/persuaders.
People who tell computers what to do. (System Development).
People who do what computers tell them what to do. (Expert Systems).
Logistical people who move things around.
Accountants to keep score.
Lawyers to resolve disputes and bollix-up everything.
Consultants to provide plausible deniability and discipline people.
People who supply goods and services to the working and managerial class.
Undertakers to process the dead.
Medical personnel who preserve and enhance life.
Middlemen who reduce transactional friction for a piece of the action.

Hint: It is a trick question. While all of these people are important, the person who is to succeed must have some knowledge of almost all areas listed above. Yes, even undertakers, as it is likely that your parents will pass before you do. The real trick is to decide which functions can be combined and executed to build a successful career.

As for a career path, I suggested that he might want to major in accounting and minor in an area of interest. Or major in something that is an employment evergreen and likely to provide income under most circumstances – as well as providing a basis for exploring future opportunities of interest.

I recommended a video that visited the Hostess operation. One, to show him that unskilled labor has little or no chance to succeed in the future and the continuing impact of automation, robotics, expert systems, and artificial intelligence on everyday life. I explained that some of the most complex parts no longer require a skilled and experienced machinist, but an automated system that drives machines or even prints an object, layer-by-layer. I asked him to list all of the jobs by skill level in the plant and then estimate how many individuals could be profitably employed.

The video…

If the video is missing, it can be found here.

Bottom line…

He told his father than I was unhelpful and he still couldn’t pick a college major. I told his dad that I suggest a stint in the military to adjust his attitude and open his eyes to the real world. A risky proposition, but one with immense benefits to snowflakes.

Oh, well! There is always drinking, drugs, partying, and protesting and a number of “studies” programs for the perpetually clueless and aggrieved.

We are so screwed.

“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw

“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”

“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS

"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius

“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell

“Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." (The people gladly believe what they wish to.) ~Julius Caesar

“Describing the problem is quite different from knowing the solution. Except in politics." ~ OCS