Developing skills (Published on Republica)

On April 12, 2014 I reached the Trade Tower Business Center, Kathmandu to take part in the International Space Apps Challenge 2014. I was excited to be part of this two-day event and was looking forward to working with some intelligent individuals. I wanted to gain some technical knowledge and experience working with students and professionals mostly from technical backgrounds. At the end of the event, I made some new friends and was assured that there is no dearth of talent in Kathmandu. We have some extremely smart minds working tirelessly behind the scenes and their talent comes out in events such as the International Space Apps Challenge.

In today’s job market, a college education and a degree is not enough to succeed or guarantee you a job. There is just way too much competition out there. This generation has so many job tools that previous generations did not have (LinkedIn, various online job sites, vast online resources to name a few). However, with all the tools available for anyone to make a presence felt, especially online, it has also tremendously increased competition.

In today’s competitive job market, I believe two skills are valuable to long-term professional success. They are technical and business skills. Technology, especially computer, has completely changed the way we work. No matter what field you are planning to enter or are working in, being computer-literate is an integral part of your daily work routine. Marketers these days analyze latest social media trends and customers’ use of mobile devices and tablets. Bankers search for potential clients through internet and use emails and phones to communicate with their clients on a daily basis. Government agencies use websites to update citizens of company registration forms, taxes, phone numbers of government offices. It’s clear that learning how to use a computer is important to efficiently accomplish your job.

With so many changes occurring around us due to technology, it’s important to stay abreast with them. This does not mean that business executives have to now go and learn the hardware and software or go back to school to learn computer science. It means that people in business should be tech-savvy and understand the new ways technology is changing their respective fields. They will have to grasp the use of technology and devices or they will be left behind in their work or industries.

When I was doing my Bachelors in Business Administration, I was very much focused on completing the credits for my business major. However, much to my delight now, I was encouraged by a fellow student to take up Information Technology as a minor. At first, I was a little hesitant because I did not want to take up classes I thought would be challenging and lower my overall grade point average. But the friend cleared my doubts and convinced me that having a major in Business Administration and a minor in Information Technology would make me more marketable when I graduated from college and entered the job market. Now when I look back, his vision and mentorship proved valuable to my career and even today I feel very lucky to have followed his advice.

My friend’s wisdom is relevant today more than ever. First, students should have a clear focus on their careers and pursue it wholeheartedly. Someone doing a BBA or planning to do a BBA should understand business concepts and take up relevant internships in their college careers. At some point in their careers, those BBA students and graduates should add technical knowledge and skills to their resume. This can be done by taking basic computer science classes, taking courses outside school, participating in tech competitions and events.

On the other hand, someone doing a BCIS or planning to get a Computer Science degree should understand technical concepts and take up relevant internships whenever they can. At some point, those computer science students and young professionals should add business knowledge and skills to their resume. They can take basic business classes online, attend events like Entrepreneurs for Nepal’s Last Thursday events and participate in business competitions or further pursue MBA.

Samrakchan Ghimire, co-founder of Birthday Forest, comes mostly from a tech background. He has a vast amount of experience in developing mobile apps and is an active participant in the tech events happening around Kathmandu such as the International Space Apps Challenge 2014. He is currently pursuing MBA at Ace Institute of Management. When asked why he decided to do MBA, Samrakchan stated that he wanted to be versatile and polish his project management skills.

I shared with Samrakchan that at International Space Apps Challenge 2014, I noticed students mostly of technical background were more creative with ideas and had done considerable work in the two-day competition. However, when it came time to present the idea and application of their product in three minutes, many individuals needed to polish their presentation skills, business application of the idea and confidently answer questions from the judges.

Recently, Thomas Friedman of The New York Times interviewed Laszlo Bock of Google who had some insightful information to share that is relevant for anyone looking for a fulfilling career. Laszlo stated that it is better to get a B for a challenging course than an A+ in a fairly easy course. Thus, students should not be taking courses depending on how easy it is to get a good grade but rather focus on how much they can learn from the course and what is important for their long-term career. The knowledge and expertise of a certain subject matters more than a better grade in the long run.

To be employable and stay competitive in today’s globalized world, one has to have the right skills and adequate knowledge that is needed in the marketplace. It is not enough for individuals with business and technical backgrounds to only focus on their expertise. They have to increase their technical and business acumen respectively. Only then will more students and young professionals become sought after and lead a fulfilling career no matter where they are in this global economy.


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