If you are growing increasingly envious of high-tech careers, it still isn’t too late to have one yourself. There are four basic avenues to join in on the e-conomy without going to programming school or making some other drastic career change:
1. Support it. Although the Internet may cause a decrease in “brick and mortar” industries, it has supported growth in a number of professions. If you are an attorney, writer, graphic artist, banker, public relations specialist or business consultant, you don’t need to change professions so much as find high-tech clients. This might mean a change to a firm that specializes in high tech (as in the case of attorneys) or finding ways to market yourself to high tech companies (as is the case of writers and graphic artists). Read through professional publications to find out the differences between a standard and e-commerce business model, and how they impact your job. One caveat: The most lucrative part of the current high-tech boom – stock options – will be the most elusive if you choose this route to a high-tech career.
2. Start a web version of your field. (Or work for someone who has.) Look very carefully at your current field. Who are the middlemen, and how can they be cut out of the process? This is the basic formula for many current successful web sites. What do you do if you are a middleman? Gather your suppliers together under an umbrella site. Your customers then have choices from many companies, yet have the convenience of dealing with one storefront – you. Find out what kind of web presence companies in your field currently have. How can their web models be improved upon? Are there extra steps remaining from the brick-and-mortar world which can be eliminated? If a company has set up a solid web presence, see if you can obtain a job with that company.
3. Maintain a traditional career with Internet enhancements. This might be as simple as transferring to the department responsible for your company’s e-commerce site. Although you run the risk that your company is too stuck in the brick-and-mortar world to succeed, you will still gain valuable experience which can be parlayed into Option 2, above. If your company still isn’t dealing with e-commerce, research ways you can spearhead the effort. Then, ask for time with key executives to present your proposal. If you get rejected, again consider Option 2.
4. Invent a new support role. Shipping companies could not have asked for a better bonanza than e-commerce. Not content to rest on its laurels, UPS has offered an expansion on these services, as it now offers electronic document delivery. If you are in any industry that emphasizes reliability or speed, there is probably a ripe market waiting to be tapped or expanded. As outsourcing becomes more commonplace, using your unique experience to dive into the new economy becomes easier to do. Human resources, payroll, inventory management, distribution logistics, accounting – all of these tasks are being outsourced. “Great”, you say, “but I’m an auto mechanic. What does this have to do with me?” How about offering fleet management services?