Keeping Your Career in Permanent Beta

We most likely think the ‘beta test phase’ may aptly apply to a new apple product, but Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha in “The Startup of You” coined the term ‘permanent beta’ in relation to career development. How does that apply to one’s career we may think, but what Reid and Ben are trying to acknowledge is that everyone has bugs, and there’s always opportunity for new development within yourself.  Just like modern technology, we must also adapt and evolve.  Permanent beta is a lifelong commitment to continuous personal and professional growth.  Sounds easy, right?

Maybe not as simple as they describe it.  Change is hard and uncomfortable sometimes, so how do we apply this mindset of permanent beta to our careers?

  • Be flexible.

In case you haven’t noticed, the world is constantly evolving and changing and with that, so are you.  To succeed professionally in today’s world, you need to be ready to shift course based on the changing demands of the job market or economic landscape.  “You need to draw up plans, but be nimble enough to stray from those plans when appropriate” says Reid and Ben.  Make a plan to develop skills and experiences that are broadly useful to other jobs, because you never know when they may of use to you in the future.

  • Connect.

Network, network, network!  I’m already losing your attention, right?  Networking can many times be thought of as a dirty word that immediately makes us cringe, but I want you to replace the word networking with building strategic connections.  According to US News, 70% of people land jobs through strategic connections (remember, we swapped out networking), so how do we go about finding these strategic connections?  That’s easy: tap into your alumni associations (ASK), LinkedIn, DePaul events, professional associations, professors, classmates, friends, and the list goes on.  Still not sure?  Contact the CMC, they know people.

  • Do.

Reid and Ben admit: “Any entrepreneur will tell you that practical knowledge is best developed by doing, not just thinking or planning”.   Get out there and do.  As an MBA student or alumni you have a plethora of resources at your disposal – reach out to a current or past professor to get involved with a project that interests you and challenges your current knowledge and skill set, volunteer for a nonprofit organization that could use some help with their finances/brand marketing/etc., or talk to your boss about taking on a new assignment that may challenge your status quo.  Don’t focus all of your time and energy contemplating what’s next, make it happen now.

When we put it that way, it doesn’t sound so bad.  Continue to challenge yourself and seek professional growth in any of the means I described above, and don’t forget to seek help when you need it (that’s what the CMC is for).  Just always try to keep this in mind, “Winning careers, like winning start-ups, are in permanent beta: always a work in progress”.

Source: “Permanent beta: Why your career is a work in progress” by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha, Special to CNN. http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/09/opinion/career-permanent-beta-hoffman-casnocha/

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