In a recent newsletter, Vicky Boykis compares the path to become a Grandmaster in Chess to career paths in the tech world. She writes:
"Even though there is one way to get to Grandmaster, there is no one single way to interview and become a senior developer or data scientist. The difference with the tech world is that there is not one single set of rules like there is in a chess game: everyone is playing on a different board, with an ever-growing number of pieces."
This reminded me of my career path and how fast things change in tech.
Four years ago, I was finishing my master's thesis at Oxford, ready to start my doctorate. My path in academia seemed clear: finish my doctorate, do more research, and teach.
My niche—compiler optimization in functional languages—was interesting, but the outside world was brimming with opportunity.
The tech world was spinning so fast with many interesting things happening while I spent months stuck in a computer lab writing code and experiments that wouldn’t impact most people.
I dropped out.
To my surprise, I had zero skills to go straight into the tech industry.
In academia, everything was much slower. You're focused on just one aspect of the world so it's easy to miss how it is moving faster and faster.
Tech is different. You’re always playing catch up.
Everything is moving and changing perpetually.
You must learn and adapt quickly to stay relevant.
And understand that change is the only constant.