Are you agile enough to reinvent yourself?

The death of newspaper reporters (and other irrelevant careers)


I prided myself in high school for being one of the few teens who knew exactly what I wanted to do—be a newspaper reporter. I was very set on this direction and was positive this is what I would do until I retired.

I prepared myself by writing articles for my school newspaper, working as a copy editor on the school yearbook and even getting to be a guest writer in the Star Tribune newspaper. I was well on my way to success and nothing could stop me now!

After high school, I graduated from the University of Minnesota’s “J-School”, one of the most popular Journalism programs in the Midwest and the Alma Mater to many of the local celebrity TV anchors and newspaper reporters.

I believed that with “J-School” on my resume and passing typing class, I was set for life. After all, my parents always told me, “Get a college degree, get a good job and you will be set for life.”

I don’t think my parents were misguiding me in any way, it’s just that that advice was for their generation of Baby Boomers, not mine of Generation X.

What I didn’t know and the world didn’t know when I graduated high school in 1992 is that just a few short years away we would learn of this thing called the Internet. And this tiny little invention, or fad as some thought it was a the time, changed everything.

Fast forward 25 years and how many of you would advise your kid to go to school to be a newspaper reporter? Sh*t, that career is dead. 

After I graduated college, in 1996, I never really became a newspaper reporter (although I did briefly as a freelancer years later). Not because I didn’t want to, but because there was always another opportunity in front of me. Instead, I became many, many other things.

“Later in life as an agilist, I realized that being agile (not knowing agile processes) gave me the skills to reinvent myself, and how valuable these skills are to my career existence.”

Later in life as an agilist, I realized that being agile (not knowing agile processes) gave me the skills to reinvent myself, and how valuable these skills are to my career existence.

Here are a few ways that you too can use your agile mindset to reinvent yourself:

Plan to have many careers
Acknowledge and accept that it’s okay to have more than one career (or two or three or 20).

Keep learning
Thrive on trying and learning new things. When you stop learning, you stop living. Just because you’ve graduated college doesn’t mean your done learning – in fact, your journey is just beginning.

Take risks
Take opportunities just outside your comfort zone. Staying only with what you know is actually a bigger risk; being well-rounded in your skill set allows you to position yourself based on market demands.

Have T-shaped skills
We talk about having T-shaped skills to be on an agile team, meaning you have your core strength and two other skills you can contribute to the team. Why not use that mindset outside of the team? Think about your top three skills. Are they in demand? If not, which similar skills can you learn to stay relevant?

As the world changes, you must be agile and adapt. Inspect and adapt your world, yourself and everything around you. Only then will you survive in this crazy, unpredictable and fast-paced world.



3 thoughts on “Are you agile enough to reinvent yourself?

  1. mikecohn October 13, 2017 / 12:32 am

    Great blog post, Stacey. I entered college as a journalism major as well, but I changed my mind by the end of freshman year.

    I did work a bit on newspapers (high school, college and then city) and I think that early exposure to hard and fast deadlines helped me later when starting to work in an agile manner. Working on a newspaper, you learn to put it to bed by a certain time each day or it doesn’t get printed in time for the next day. That is a much more rigid deadline than most software teams really face so I thought it was great training.

    I love your five ways to reinvent oneself. I read something interesting a few years ago that said young people today will have 3 distinct careers, not just jobs but actual careers. They meant things like you might be a journalist for 15 years then a pilot for 15 and then a dentist for 12 years. So it was more than just start at job x and then work your way up to managing people who do job x.

    This all had to do with how long working careers will be for 20-somethings of today. They’ll likely need to work longer to fund longer lifespans brought on by healthier lifestyles and medical advances. And no one wants to do the same thing for 50 years.

    So an ability to reinvent oneself rapidly is going to be even more critical in coming years.

    Great article!


    • Stacey Ackerman October 13, 2017 / 12:38 am

      Thanks Mike! I am more than a little honored that you are reading my blog!


  2. Jakub October 17, 2017 / 6:19 am

    The best thing behind changing your career is that you can use the transition period to take few months off and do something super cool!


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