Time for a Mid-Life Skills Upgrade?

I became a medical writer (what’s that? Someone who writes about medicine) in my early 30s after earning my PhD in molecular biology and an MS in technical communication. I now run my own medical writing business, which has several writers, and which has grown organically to pretty healthy annual revenues. It’s going well, and I can’t complain.

However, the early fifties, the age at which I now find myself, can be a scary time for some working professionals. While your earnings and job title are likely ramped up, you are nowhere near wanting to retire. You may start worrying about the crop of workers coming up behind you, whom you suspect came out of the womb being able to code. You may start wondering if your own well-honed skillset could become obsolete. With the emergence of artificial intelligence, as a writer, I consider that a possibility. And, as a small business owner, if I ever needed a real job (for example, if I wanted affordable health insurance), what’s the chance of me being hired when they could hire a more tech-savvy 30-year-old whom they could pay less? Not high. Fortunately, my business is doing great, but what if it weren’t?

To help myself sleep better at night, I decided I needed to upgrade my skillset. I started looking around at some online programs. What set of skills would be most useful given my current career? I toyed with the idea of learning artificial intelligence, or python, or data science, but I landed on Udacity’s Digital Marketing Nanodegree Program. I thought this program would be a great fit because it would help me with the marketing in my current business while providing me with a set of valuable and marketable (pun intended) skills. It was a great choice. I am learning all about content marketing, social media management, Google ads, targeted ads, and the like. Udacity’s program is reasonably priced and has the added benefit of office hours and feedback on projects. The videos and instructors are top notch. Udacity is also based out of Silicon Valley and has partnerships with certain tech companies of which I’m a fangirl. I am using my own company, Nascent Medical, to do my project work on, so I’m not wasting any time on theoretical projects.

I look forward to increasing both my skills and my business revenues even further with the help of this program. Maybe we will be looking to hire some of those up-and-coming tech-savvy 30-year olds!

Emma Nichols, PhD