How curiosity can make (or break) your career
I recently hosted a discussion panel about emerging career paths in technology. The five panelists came from diverse fields ranging from cybersecurity to UX design.
Each panelist had a unique career journey to share but there was one story that I found really fascinating. This particular panelist had graduated from university with an archaeology degree. After a few years spent excavating archaeological finds from dirt trenches, he decided to explore his interest in data science. Through a series of career twists and turns, he now loves his job as a senior data scientist in a global insurance company. A great example of how careers rarely follow a straight, linear path.
When asked “Which skills are most valuable for working in data science?” his response was surprising to many students in the audience. Above any technical competency, he emphasised that CURIOSITY was the key to his career success. This sentiment was echoed by the other panelists.
Curiosity is the desire to learn and understand new things. Whether you want to work in the technology industry or any other field, here’s why curiosity is important for leading a successful and fulfilling career.
The world of work is changing
3D Printing Technician, Social Media Manager, Uber Drivers… none of these jobs existed 20 years ago.
Automation, AI and digitalisation are creating new job opportunities and changing the way people work. Technological advancements aren’t showing any signs of slowing down, so the best way to “future-proof” your career is to adopt a curious mindset. This means taking it upon yourself to learn new workplace skills and learn about new and emerging careers.
If you see that basic programming skills are helpful in your desired field, why not try some free online courses to learn different programming languages?
Curiosity connects you with others
You’ve probably heard about how important networking is. When you invest time into building relationships— professional and personal —you’ll reap the benefits throughout the course of your career. Meeting new people and showing curiousity about their world helps you to learn about new opportunities, stay on top of industry trends and meet prospective mentors, employers and clients.
Curious workers also connect faster and better with their colleagues. They ask more questions and develop a better understanding of their co-workers strengths and weaknesses. In team situations, a curious person knows how to best collaborate on a project, delegate a task or motivate colleagues.
Curiousity and innovation go hand in hand
Think about some of the best innovations used in your daily life.
Smart phones, Uber Eats and dishwashing machines were all created because people thought outside the box.
Asking questions can generate new ways of thinking and make you more creative at work.
You’ll be more desirable to employers
Curiosity and open-mindedness are highly desired by employers.
If you can demonstrate a curious mindset in job applications and interviews (think about examples from your studies, work and extra-curricular activities), employers will see you as someone who is driven and has the potential to improve their organisation.
Featured image courtesy of Unsplash
By Stephanie Gonzales
Stephanie is a passionate Careers Consultant and Educator for UTS Faculty of Engineering and IT. She enjoys working with university students and helping them to develop lifelong career management skills for improved employment and career outcomes.