Career advice for the Class of 2018: Set your organization up for growth and success

Some career advice for 2018 grads thinking about mobile technology as a career path.

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It’s been more than half a century since The Graduate rocked the box offices and famously coined career advice in one word: “plastics.” Times have certainly changed and the graduates of 2018 have a plethora of career choices to search for on their smartphones.

In my business, telecom expense management (TEM), the number of career paths has expanded in very recent years as organizations of every stripe seek to control costs and effectively deploy and utilize the ever-more-sophisticated mobile devices used in the workplace.

So, I thought I would offer some career advice for 2018 grads thinking about mobile technology as a career path:

  • Anyone looking to get into mobile should have a clear understanding of who their users are and how they use their devices – so in short focus keenly on user interface/user experience (UI/UX). Ask yourself: why do most people view the iPhone as superior to Android? Tech magazines will tell you that premier Android devices are more customizable, have more power and even more battery life. But Apple does a fantastic job of focusing on the user experience. It de-clutters the screen and simplifies the operations so people don’t have to “think” when using it.  More power and customization does equal better, a thorough understanding of your customer doesn't.
  • App development is similar. If an app is not intuitive – then it is not right. Today, the big question is whether a native app is necessary or just if responsive design (which is where it automatically adjusts layout based on screen size) is enough. Nascent app designers should consider if they want to “develop apps,” because a lot of companies are realizing that a native app might not be necessary. Instead, companies can design and build once for multiple sites and not invest in a separate app that might never get used.
  • If you are going to be building Apps for mobile devices, then you need to know how to code for them. The current leading mobile programming languages for both iOS and Android are: Swift, Objective-C, Java, Python and HTML5. Learn, baby, learn – your education doesn’t stop when you receive your degree.
  • Remember: every industry is different – but if you can focus strictly on the users and how they use their devices (and how you can make that better) – then you don’t need industry experience. You just need to understand human behavior.

As you search for a job that fits your career goals, you may click on a role that seems perfect -- until you scroll down to the job requirements and find that 5, 10 or 15-plus years of “industry” experience was “a must.” You may decide to move on despite having a deep desire to learn more about how you might contribute to that organization’s success.

Earlier in my career a very close friend recommended me for a job in medical devices. At that point, my only experience in the field was nil, but I felt my skills and passion matched perfectly for what the role required. The hiring manager decided to go with the person with industry experience. Maybe as consolation, he told me that I “showed great passion, curiosity and drive…and fit the company culture.” (I later found out that the individual with medical device experience left the job after two years for a role in a totally different industry.)

Jack Welch, considered one of best organizational leaders of the late 20th Century, laid out in a LinkedIn series his hiring “must-haves, the definitely should-haves, and the game-changer.” In short, must haves are: Integrity and high IQ. Should haves: energy to go the distance, ability to energize others, capacity to make the tough decisions (what he calls ‘edge’), execution – the ability to get things done, and passion for both work and life. The game-changer in Welch’s process is someone who he says possesses the “generosity gene.” I love this because when people ask me what makes a great leader or manager, I always have the same answer: A person who sets his group up for growth and success. This is what Jack Welch calls the “generosity gene.”

Industry experience is something that can be trained, learned and gained. When I interview job applicants, I look for passion, energy, teamwork, curiosity and successful execution experience.

In an article in the Harvard Business Review based on his book It’s Not the How or the What but the Who, Fernández-Aráoz wrote: “The question is not whether your company’s employees and leaders have the right skills; it’s whether they have the potential to learn new ones.”

Don’t be discouraged if you see a posting you are passionate about but might not have the skills for. Show the drive, curiosity, passion to learn the job and industry, and share the many ways your background can be leveraged for symbiotic success.

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