Why now is the best time to learn a new skill?

Naz Van Norel

Written by:Dr. Banu Turkmen


I often get questions on career tips from younger generations; my students, colleagues, relatives etc. As a data scientist I feel more and more how our lives are changing everyday with the new applications of data science and the new ways of working due to Coronavirus. When the world is changing this fast, it makes many things obsolete for us including the good tips about education and work life. It is not only the technology which is changing, it is also how we learn, what we value and lifestyles as a whole are changing. Jos Akkermans, Julia Richardson and Maria L. Kraimer made a verygood analysison how covid-19 pandemic is a career shock for many people across the globe.


In the past, we learned mostly from older generations. Now the older generation is learning from the younger generation and they are not the number one source anymore. As older generations, we either try to catch up as much as possible or get scared from change and cling to our traditional lifestyles. But for young generations there is no escape from this change. You have to live your age and it is not bad at all, believe me.


Just a decade ago, we were more limited by borders, socio-economic conditions, minority-based challenges and many other constraints as individuals. But nowadays, you can embrace the world full of opportunities wherever you are. I am not saying we overcame gender equality issues by technology but I am saying you can reach women networks and overcome struggles together, stronger, with like-minded people, much easier than before.

Women AI Academyis a perfect example in my experience. All you need is a computer and internet connection to reach the rest of us. You can learn how to play a musical instrument, a language, programming online. You do not have to go to expensive schools or move to bigger cities. Again I am not devaluing the high quality education those schools are providing, in any way.

All I am saying is that you still have a chance even if you cannot afford them. I find this global accessibility very precious and I believe it promotes equality and provides means for solidarity. 

In old times, power was centralized. You needed to be a king or rich to change the world. Nowadays the power is much more diversified. You can make an impact even as an individual, well, more than before.


I do not like clichés but a few friends working in their parents’ garage are changing the world today. So you have to feel that power in you. Stay close to people and companies that encourage and empower you. In my case I appreciate my companyAurora Propulsion Technologies, promoting equality at the workplace, focusing on the products to enable sustainable use of space and making space more accessible. We should all appreciate these pioneer examples a crossing our lives and share the good spirit.


Now you know why you are lucky to live in this new age, with more freedom and power enjoying the accessibility that I mentioned before. 


Let me close with few practical tips: 

1. Invest in the right side of your brain, the things that you do better than robots, still. Empathy, abstract thinking, art, beauty, aesthetics, ethics? So you need to focus on the fields where you can make a difference by being human. Let’s make a team with them and live in harmony together.   

2. Stay interdisciplinary or have a few majors. Some professions will die and some new professions will arise. So even if one profession goes down, you should still survive. 

3. Be courageous. Do not fear failure. The more you fail, the more you learn which will enrich your life. You will keep discovering yourself and revisit your priorities, plans and dreams on the way, so feel the courage and let the power be with you.

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