At our annual ACS Colorado section banquet for local high school students and their teachers, we invited Bill Carroll to be the guest speaker.  Carroll gave a good talk with pertinent advice on starting and grooming ones technical career. I won’t repeat all of it, but a few good points stand out.

Carroll began the talk by highlighting the differences between commodity and specialty products. Then he transitioned into the suggestion that careers can be partitioned into specialty and commodity categories as well. His argument was that jobs can become commoditized just like gasoline and that, like any commodity, choices as to who fills the position may be made from a crowd of indistinguishable candidates. And, like commodities, the salary paid to such workers may be beaten down by excess supply.

However you stretch analogy, the point was that it might be best to have core skills embellished with secondary and diverse abilities.

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