I enjoy the tomfoolery of Gary Larson, creator of The Far Side, a single-panel cartoon series that used to be the liveliest thing in newsprint. His sense of humor is kind of warped, and I guess that says something about mine as well. One all-time favorite is Larson’s conception of a “dinosaur conference,” where a stegosaurus is at the lectern and he says, “The picture’s pretty bleak gentlemen.The world’s climates are changing, the mammals are taking over, and we all have a brain about the size of a walnut.”
I find great humor in the idea of dinosaurs getting together some 66 million years ago to discuss their impending demise, all the while being completely unable to stave off the cruel hand dealt them by fate. (Kind of like the Golden State Warriors in this year’s NBA Finals.) Apart from the humorous aspects of a comet-induced mass extinction, however, I do sometimes wonder how some creatures survived while the “terrible lizards” didn’t.
According to Penn State researcher Russ Graham, “Mammals that used burrows or lived in aquatic environments would have been shielded from the intense heat that briefly followed the impact.” After the heat was off, they were able to come back out and make the most of the remaining food resources. “There may not have been enough food for dinosaurs, but the more generalized tastes of mammals allowed them to hang on.” In short the mammals adapted, evolved and survived.
The end of the dinosaurs holds an important lesson for us today. We are in a time of economic upheaval as companies constantly seek to lower overhead by reducing their work forces and outsourcing where possible. Our entire economy has undergone major changes that have killed jobs and companies and outmoded traditional ways of doing business. As a nation, we’re $20 trillion in debt, have two generations of citizens who can barely read or write, and a government continually making employment more difficult and expensive. Yes, the picture is a bit bleak.
Fortunately, however, there is a bright spot on the horizon — certifications!
Certification is a great way to pick up new skills and abilities that can help you keep a job, or move on to a better one. The entrepreneurially inclined can even start their own businesses. This is especially true when it comes to IT, as federal, state, and local governments increasingly utilize freelancers to carry out IT tasks. According to the Congressional Budget Office, spending for outside contractors to help with administrative, management and IT tasks exceeded $260 billion in 2014 — and a significant portion of that went directly to IT professionals.
The end of the Cretaceous Period was violent and sudden, and not all mammals came through. (Alas, poor triconodontids, spalacotheroids, dryolestids and multituberculates, we hardly knew you.) But the mammals that managed to survive did so by being flexible. They adapted to their new surroundings and didn’t just survive, they thrived.
This is how certifications can help us in a changing business environment. Whether it’s a high-school student learning Desktop Pro Plus, or a seasoned professional earning her CISSP, certifications help us in a time of uncertainty to be more valuable to employers, to have more opportunities for advancement, and to command salaries that enable us to have the quality of life we desire.
About the Author — Calvin Harper is an associate editor for GoCertify and a veteran of the publishing industry. Calvin also has fond memories of the one where God is taking the Earth out of the oven and thinking to himself, "Something tells me this thing's only half-baked."