Dear Younger Me,
This is a letter from the future! This month, the
0x10 anniversary of your graduation from college passed almost without note. Almost, that is, but for this letter, scribbled down late at night and sent, via a quantum space-time discontinuity, back to the swamplands of Virginia, 1996.
I have some bad news: You just spent tens of thousands of dollars acquiring computer skills that, from my perspective in the future, are hopelessly outdated. Sorry to break it to you. Most of the cutting edge work in the future is being done with languages you haven’t heard of yet. At least you had the foresight to become proficient in C. While you soon will stop writing C programs, those memories buried deep in your lizard brain will help you when it’s time to write Objective-C.
However, all is not lost if you remember three simple truths:
- The most important skill you honed with all that tuition money is learning how to learn. Don’t let learning stop because you have a diploma.
- Programming languages change, but math, algorithms, and concurrency are forever. If you’re going to be learning, learn these. (As well as the programming languages you need to make the abstractions concrete – but the programming languages are disposable.)
- Make time for side projects. Every single interesting career opportunity you will have will originate with the skills you pick up on a side project.
The future is bright. Computers are remaking society, mostly for the better. Remember these tips and you’ll be part of the group that gets to change the world. Forget them and you’ll be left behind.
(Oh, and buy Apple stock. Now.)
Older, Wiser Me