Reader Question: Will AI take all the 'junior jobs'?

AI's impact on junior jobs, and how to use it as a career accelerant instead

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  • How will AI shape your career: replacement or accelerant?

  • Microsoft and Nvidia made big moves this week

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Will AI take all the ‘junior jobs’?

My daughter is about to enter college. Previously I would have recommended business or tech. Now, not so sure…. If AI can do the job of junior people, will she have a job when she graduates? If not, how will we ever get more senior people in the future?

- Reader Question (submit your own here)

Here’s the thing. “Autonomous AI agents” are being hyped up a lot right now. But it’s not empty hype. There are a few business functions where AI is progressing very, very fast on its ability to complete junior-level jobs:

  • Responding to basic customer support inquiries — aka customer support associates

  • Doing cold outreach & trying to book sales meetings — aka sales development reps

  • Writing basic code, fixing small issues and testing software — aka junior software engineers

The alarming part (as our reader mentioned) is that these roles historically were in high demand and served as a great place to start your career with minimal prior experience.

But - there’s a good chance that these junior-level roles will be performed 100% by AI in the near future; in fact, we’re already seeing it.

And the idea is that people will take on the more complex sides and tasks that AI can’t do yet… but that requires expertise, which junior people don’t have.

… so …

If AI can do the job of junior people; what jobs will young people do, and how will we get senior people in the future?

Look, we can’t predict the future. But what we can shine light on is what we are hearing + what we’d do if we were in those shoes.

Broadly speaking — we are seeing roles go down one of two paths: career replacement, and career acceleration.

Yes, there is replacement: there are roles that just won’t exist anymore (we think Sales Development Reps are one of them, but that’s a topic for another newsletter).

But career acceleration is much more interesting; the roles where the path from junior to senior is merely accelerated, thanks to AI.

Software engineering is a very clear example of this. A typical software engineer spends the first few years of their career learning the fundamentals, how to write in a programming language or two, asking tons of questions, having both wins and failures through projects.

AI is simply accelerating this. How? Well here’s the 3 things we’re seeing junior people do differently with AI:

  1. Treating AI like your 24/7 mentor

  2. Learning to work alongside AI — you think, it does

  3. Staying accountable to the outcomes

Treating AI like your 24/7 mentor

Blindly copy and pasting work from ChatGPT to do your job is no different than copying your friends’ homework. Sure, you might get stuff done faster and a better grade, but you didn’t learn. And that will catch up to you at some point.

Instead, when using ChatGPT at work, ask deeper questions about its outputs. A great place to start is the 5 Why’s.

Learning to work alongside AI

One way to think about working AI-first is making an assumption that whatever you choose to do, AI will actually be doing most of the execution. And so first, before you even get started, how can you frame or tackle the project or task at hand to leverage AI’s strengths.

A simple technique is getting in the habit of writing out a step-by-step plan before beginning work. Then, before you begin, pause and think about opportunities to lean on AI throughout the project.

Staying accountable to the outcomes

Everyone will use AI to do their jobs. But the best people will put their name on the work in the end; not AI’s. And they’ll edit and improve the work.

AI is changing how we work. There’s no arguing that. But if we were starting out our careers today, we’d be thinking about how AI can accelerate our path to a more senior position - rather than pose a risk of replacing.


For your reading list 📚

We’re seeing government catch up to the ChatGPT boom on many dimensions…

Industry leaders are quoting AGI timelines all over the place…

And if you’re really nerdy…

Have a burning AI question? Or stuck trying to help your team adopt AI?

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🪄 The AI Exchange Team