Job Update from Karl Feld ’91

I have changed industries once since I held my first full-time professional job.  In many ways what I do remains similar, in others it is radically different.  My entire career has been focused on social science work using a long list of knowledge and skills I’ve acquired since middle school (starting wih computer science and a strong command of written and spoken English).  However, my career started out in international education and now I do global applied research. The biggest change has been the advent of digital data.  I have always worked with information and the rise of the digital has dramatically changed the speed, accuracy and range of my work.  For example, I remember spending hours printing out and analyzing reams of statistical analysis on the dot matrix printers in the Ripon computer lab for a PoGo methods class.  Today, I run the same analyses, but in seconds on my desktop without a sheet of paper in sight.   Similarly, in one of my first positions overseas I spent hours writing emails on the earliest government internet system on a PC with a green screen.  Emais had to be bundled into packets before they could be sent over telephone lines.  Phone calls were minimized because of cost.  Today I bounce emails and calls off a satellite using a handheld device instantly from almost anywhere in the world.  Cultural and geographic distances have also shrunk.  I have always specialized in inter-cultural communication working with teams of people from or in other countries.  In my first job this required deep knowledge of languages and cultural context and infrequent, prolonged travel.  Today, almost everyone I work with speaks English, we communicate instantly worldwide via audio and video over the internet, I can roughly translate documents in a flash with online tools, there is a (mostly) shared global culture of the workplace and I get on planes to other countries like they are buses.  There is a constant need to change skills and knowledge in the workplace, and the trick to success is to keep up.