Opinion: Take career risks while you can

Image by Simon Rae

In the 1980's and 1990's, part of my time was spent as a lecturer and tech services manager at a university. I particularly loved working with final year students and their project work. At our regular meetings though, I also often got into discussion with the students about their career plans, as they were about to graduate. What amazed me was how many super-bright students were looking to take incredibly boring jobs working on ancient technologies, in what were basically programmer graveyards, and when I asked them why they were intending to go there, invariably they'd tell me that they thought those jobs would be long term and low risk.

So a bright twenty-one year old student with no kids, no mortgage or other real commitments, and nothing much in the way of ties, was selling their soul for a low risk job.

Don't do this !

Take career risks while you can!

I understand that once you have a partner, kids, mortgage, etc., you don't have the freedom to try things. I've seen people I work with who are so tied to receiving a pay every fortnight that they can't make good decisions about their careers.

Image by Kevin Delvecchio
Image by Kevin Delvecchio

But if that's not you, don't sell yourself and your future short.

If you're worried about taking a risk, ask yourself what is the worst possible thing you can imagine happening, and then ask yourself if there is any way you could survive it, even if it's painful. And if you could survive it, don't hesitate to try. Anything that happens probably won't be as bad as you've imagined anyway. More importantly, you might just fly.

Image by The Nigmatic
Image by The Nigmatic

No-one flies day one, not even birds. While you can, just try things.

One of the saddest things I hear from older people is regret for the things they felt they could have done but didn't try.

Image by Ozan Safak
Image by Ozan Safak

Don't let it be you with the regrets.

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