In April, 275 alumni, students, and friends gathered at Dartmouth for “The Future of Work in an Accelerated Era,” a symposium of insightful and inspiring presentations and panels on the challenges and opportunities of work in today’s world.
Alumni from across industries imparted their wisdom and advice for surviving and thriving in the changing work environment. Check out photos from the day, watch video from the keynote speeches, and read on to learn what you need to know about the future of work.
#1: Change is Constant in Every Career
It’s no longer reasonable to expect that most workers will stay in the same job at the same company for most of their career. Colin Stretch ’91, general counsel at Facebook, says it’s helpful to think of a career in decade-long segments. “Clerking for Associate Justice Stephen Breyer on the United States Supreme Court gave me a model for my career. His career broke into decade-long interests, and so has mine. 10 years into my career with law firms, I got a call from Facebook,” Stretch said during his keynote address at the symposium, “I wasn’t so fascinated by technology, but I wasn’t afraid of it, so I made the change.”
#2: Humans are Irreplaceable
There’s a lot of talk in the media about artificial intelligence (a term coined at Dartmouth!) and what jobs will be replaced by robots in the coming decades, but alumni shouldn’t worry about their careers being outsourced to machines entirely, according to David Fineman Tu’82. “Until machines can be empathetic, they can’t take humans away,” says the specialist leader of HR transformation and people analytics at Deloitte Consulting. “Think of ATMs. We actually have more bank tellers than ever before, but now they are upscaling. They sell mortgages, or they’re fraud specialists. Automation allows for people to focus on the more interesting parts of their job, as long as a company provides those opportunities for them.”
#3: Communication is Key
Communicating clearly with your colleagues and clients is critical, regardless of your field of work. Rachel Casseus ’06 is the founding attorney at Casseus Law, a technology-driven business immigration practice. She advises individuals and companies on immigration needs, but considers communication to be at the heart of her company. “I get to be a storyteller,” Casseus says, “and I tell all of the best facts about my clients.” Valerie Zhao ’15 agrees, and says it’s even more vital for freelancers and remote workers. “How we talk to each other is vital. It doesn’t matter if you’re in person or remote. You need a plan to get it all done and explain what you did. Communication is key,” says the associate product manager at Catalant Technologies.
#4: You Must be Invaluable
The best way to make yourself “future proof” is to rise to the top of your field, and there’s only one way to do that: work hard and make yourself known. Gary Briggs, chief marketing officer at Facebook, says, “It sounds cliché coming from Silicon Valley, but people who show initiative and look for problems to solve are invaluable.” Sherri Oberg ’82 Tu’86 echoed that statement, and urged alumni and students to specialize once they’ve found their passion. “Be good at one thing,” the trustee emerita and entrepreneur said. “One person can’t know everything, so know everything you can about one thing and then surround yourself with people who know everything else better than you. Together, you can build something great.”
#5: The Dartmouth Network is Here for You
Even as careers and work change rapidly, Dartmouth connections are forever. Caroline Cannon Tu’98 is the associate director of career services at the Tuck School of Business and identifies as a serial entrepreneur. “Even if you get rejected from a job when you send your resume into an online system, find an alumnus there,” she says. “Reach out to them and ask them to send out your resume. That’s what we tell our students and the network is here for alumni, too.”