Aurora Magazine

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Rethinking work in the digital age

Updated Jun 17, 2017 10:13am
Technology has paved way for various new kinds of career options which represent the future of jobs.
Illustration by Creative Unit.
Illustration by Creative Unit.

In today’s world traditional work dynamics are in a state of flux. People are turning towards entrepreneurship and within traditional professions an increasing number of freelancers are operate out of virtual web-based offices. The internet is enabling a revolution within the paradigms of ‘work’ and ‘compensation’ that even the industrial revolution couldn’t.

So what are the careers that represent the future of jobs?

Data scientists

This is the job/career with the most buzz. In the digital age, terabytes of information are generated every hour though news, blogs, photos, videos, tweets - you name it. And this is only the surface. Every web page is a gold mine of code that can be accessed to analyse every change that made, every individual who visits, and from where every search result is coming from. People with the right skill set (a mixture of intuition, programming skills, and patience) can extract invaluable insights from virtually any kind of data.

Data scientists are already employed by companies, B2B and B2C services and government organisations to better understand people’s behaviour and then exploit it. This ‘data’ extends far beyond the bits and bytes floating through the internet.So how can one become a data scientist? First, one needs to have the aptitude – an eye and passion to analyse large volumes of data and spot unusual patterns. Second, one must understand statistics and applied mathematics. One also needs to know enough programming to engineer methods for sourcing, processing, and storing data using languages and applications such as SQL, R, Python, SPSS, Tableau, and Hadoop . Finally, a knack for presentation skills is essential as complex data needs to be presented in a manner which is understood by any audience. Although many foreign universities offer specialist programmes for data scientists, they are expensive and time consuming. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), on the other hand, are cheap and accessible. The self-taught approach is the scrappiest and finding projects through which to apply learning and an eventual job rests entirely on the individual. A third option is participation in a bootcamp typically taught by practitioners in an accelerated timeline. This option has a higher probability of employment as the teachers often come from, and are deeply connected to, data mining operations.

Guided blogger/Vlogger

There are many names to this role, but the idea is the same: a blogger or vlogger with a gift for writing, creative video making and grabbing attention, is secretly employed by brands to write about their products in a credible way. Think of it as ‘product placement’, but not in a movie or a TV show. These bloggers write and make videos on a variety of topics and even criticise the brands they are (secretly) working for to establish their credibility. They will also counter social media backlash as a result of some slippage by the brand. So how to land this gig? There is no defined path. First you have to have a successful YouTube channel or blog. This will take time to develop. Carefully generate and edit your content to attract web traffic and optimise it for search engines. Once there is enough traffic, vendors will automatically take notice and approach you for product placement.

Trend watch dog

This is similar to data scientists, but does not involve programming or deep data analysis. Rather the job requires keeping an eye on social media for trends, hashtags or events that may affect the brand in any way. There are entire teams of trend watchers working for brands. Who do you think advised the producers of House of Cards about doing the impossible: rivalling the Trump presidency in terms of absurdity! To be a trend watchdog, a degree in mass communication will help, but more importantly, excellent social media skills are required as well as the ability to write succinctly and effectively. The PR department of any company that needs to monitor its image is a good place to start. One example is such departments in utility companies such as K-Electric (boy do they need it!), PTCL and WAPDA.

Cyber lawyer

Increasingly, life happens on the internet. Freedom of speech via the internet, TV and social media, is all well and good – unless it steps on someone’s toes. The current media climate is of extreme caution as every ad campaign, blog post, movie, article or tweet is a potential legal goldmine. Even at the home front, with national discourse subject to a tug of war between content creators and authorities like PEMRA, there is plenty of legal activity. Enter Cyber lawyers. Cyber law practice has a wide scope in the corporate field. Law students who are experts in cyber law are in great demand and paid handsomely. The rapid growth of IT has led to a situation where existing laws are challenged. Cyber Law deals with computer hackers and people who introduce viruses and prevents or reduces the damage from cyber-criminal activities by protecting information access, privacy, communications, intellectual property (IP) and freedom of speech. The field is rich with employment opportunities. Any company dealing with media is subject to legal risks, and increasingly companies’ in-house legal functions are being augmented by cyber lawyers.