Future in Physics - Career Coaching For Physics Students

Reach For The Edges! – Where The Very Best Problems Are

Today, many commercial entities and government agencies organize their teams and their products around traditional discipline boundaries. That (not surprisingly) looks a lot like departments within a university. 

There is tremendous investment and inertia tied to this structure. Though this model works for large, long timeline projects, it is not ideal for where the technology sector is heading today where focus is on rapid prototyping, being first to market and leveraging open source tools. Instead it tends to lead to stove-piped knowledge, large integration teams and extended project timelines. 

In reality the interactions between systems and people is much closer to this with lots of coupled interactions.


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The very best problems to work are found in the space between discipline areas where you bring systems together. Because they are tough problems those who can and enjoy solving them are the most sought after and best compensated folks in industry.

Surprisingly most people tend to stay within their discipline area. It is comfortable, you’re really good at it, and you speak the language right? But there is a shortage of people, who will get uncomfortable, be willing to push through the uncertainty and live in the edges. As I said, that’s where the really meaty problems are. And that is a way to make yourself uniquely valuable! The best news is it isn’t really that hard, you do NOT need to go back to school, you do not need to change jobs but you must be willing to get uncomfortable! To not be the expert for just a while as you learn about the interaction between systems. What you’ll have in the end is a VERY valuable reputation as a problem solver and an integrator. The kind of person who brings teams together! Reach for the edges – you’ll be shocked at the new value you bring your team!