4 Important Skills for Hackademics to Develop
Written by Jean Fan
As hackademics we choose to establish our own credentials, often at the expense of formal ones. In order to build a captivating online portfolio, however, we need to develop certain skills. Below we’ve included a list of important skills and corresponding resources that will help you build your reputation.
Whether you write only to respond to email or you go so far as to keep your own blog, writing is an incredibly powerful tool. Your writing style conveys your personality. Being able to articulate your thoughts is crucial, yet few can do it well.
If you choose to blog, then writing becomes an even more effective tool. Not only do you have a chance to express what matters to you, you are also reinforcing yourself as an expert in your field, someone we can trust.
- The Elements of Style, by William Strunk and E.B. White, is a classic on how to write clearly and concisely.
- The Gunning-Fog Index measures readability — good writing is simple.
Learning the science behind technology is not just a Silicon Valley sentiment anymore. There are now a terrific amount of startups dedicated to teaching non-programmers how to program, and for good reason: programmers are in short supply. The technology sector always lacks technical talent; unlike other fields it is not overflowing with overqualified applicants.
Coding, however, is only a means to an end. The key to becoming a good programmer is not to code simply for the sake of coding. Instead, find a project that you absolutely need to see through, and work backwards to figure out how to make it happen.
- Khan Academy offers an interactive way to learn how to program.
- Udacity offers computer science courses through project-based learning.
People are everything. If you make it a point to meet and help others, you will create a community of supporters who will give you a helping hand when you need it as well. Making connections and connecting other people is an incredibly valuable skill because it is one of few that cannot be outsourced or automated.
That being said, the purpose of networking is not to use people for your own purposes — beyond just adding someone on LinkedIn or Facebook, learning how to genuinely care about other people is far more important.
- The Education of Millionaires, by Michael Ellsberg, touts networking as the most serendipitous skill.
- How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie, gives timeless advice on how to be a better people person.
Thinking entrepreneurially is perhaps the most important skill. Many hackademics want to strike out on their own to build something great, but “intrapreneurs” should also cultivate some of the defining qualities of entrepreneurs — taking initiative, prioritizing execution, soliciting feedback, and so forth.
Treat yourself like a small business. Learn how to market yourself, then leverage your skills to create multiple sources of income.