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Have Your Career Planned Out? Don’t Bet on it!

The Close School’s resident sage sheds light on prospects for entrepreneurs in the U.S. job market.


January 30, 2015

By Dr. Roy Carriker

It has been such a short span of history … just over 20 years since British computer scientist, Tim Berners-Lee, envisioned the World Wide Web and it became a practical reality with the creation of Netscape circa 1995. In fact, if you are young, the Internet world is the only one you’ve known, so you may not appreciate how it is changing everything, including your ability to earn a living over your working lifetime.

One massive impact is the rise of so many exploding entities which connect people who desire a product or service with someone who can deliver it. Need a ride? Uber. Need a painter? Handywork. Book? Amazon. Wheel for your ‘65 Beetle? eBay. And so on ad infinitum.

So firms, their management and employees, which used to provide all these needs are being supplanted by Internet facilitators.

The explosion of businesses facilitated by the Internet is creating massive changes in employment patterns faster than society can accommodate them — as evidenced by the 40 percent of recent university graduates who are underemployed, saying they didn’t need a degree for the job they were able to get.

Why this matters:

Unless you are focused on a career that recognizes how employment patterns are changing or planning to be an entrepreneur or self-employed, you need to fully understand how your future employment prospects are dramatically changing. Graduating from a university is no guarantee. Roughly 15 percent of all U.S. taxi drivers have a degree. Of course you aren’t planning to be a taxi driver, but then neither were they.

And now they are being supplanted by Uber.

Say you are majoring in biochemistry and hoping to do R&D for some biomedical giant. The odds of a long career with such a firm are getting progressively longer. They are now using Internet services to find their R&D answers from individual contributors and small boutique firms using intermediaries like Innocentive, the technology equivalent of Uber.

So, the bad news? A long-term, stable job with a big established firm may not be there over the long run. The good news? The work will still be done by individual knowledge workers, but just in a different pattern. Bottom line? Understanding the entrepreneurial world ahead will better prepare you for any eventuality.

Says Carriker: An entrepreneur friend of mine once told me: "Learn, earn, return." After 55 years of learning and earning around the world, I am returning.

Roy Carriker is a Teaching Professor and Director of Technology Entrepreneurship in the Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship. He is also a School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems senior executive in residence.

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