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Resiliency in an AI age: Key AI skills for tech professionals

Angie Jones and Amber Israelsen uncover the AI skills to learn for tech careers, including prompt engineering, soft skills, and hands-on experience.

May 28, 2024 • 5 Minute Read

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  • IT Ops
  • Software Development
  • Data
  • Professional Development
  • AI & Machine Learning
  • Learning & Development

If you’re worried about getting or keeping a job in the tech industry, you’re not alone. And AI technology has added yet another layer to job security concerns. 69% of IT professionals say they're at least somewhat at risk of being replaced by AI tools. 

You can’t control the evolution of AI, but you can secure your tech career with certain skills and knowledge. Angie Jones, VP of Global Developer Relations for TBD @ Block, and Amber Israelsen, Pluralsight Author and software developer, share their tips for navigating the AI age and developing the hard and soft skills you need to stay relevant.

Catch what you missed at Tech Skills Day—watch on demand.

Table of contents

Use AI technology like any other software development tool

While it may feel like AI solutions are competing for your job, Angie explains why this isn’t the best way to think about this emerging technology. 

“As AI stands today, it's pretty much a tool,” she said. “And if you think of it in that regard, you'd approach it like engineers do with any other tool within their toolkit, right? You understand what problems it's really good at solving. You understand its limitations. You understand how you can optimize for best results and when and where to use such a tool.”

Embrace AI for work: Artificial intelligence experts weigh in

Viewing AI as a tool, not a replacement, can help you make the most of it as a tech professional. Angie and Amber shared their tips on boosting your job security and resiliency in the AI age.

Build essential AI skills and grow AI literacy

AI is moving into every domain. Learn the language around it so you know what people are talking about.

“Even if you don't plan to be a machine learning engineer . . . [it’s] super important to get a one-on-one level understanding at least of like, ‘What's really happening here? What is a model? What does it mean to train a model? What is inference? What is fine tuning?’” explained Amber.

Learn prompt engineering best practices

How can you get better answers faster from AI models? Prompt engineering.

Angie likened it to googling. “Those who are good at googling things, they get answers faster, right? And that sounds silly to say, but you know that that's true. The way that you request information has an impact on the information that you get back.

“And this is the same for prompting AI to provide info. Knowing what to ask and how to ask it, I feel, is definitely a critical skill no matter what area of tech you work in.”

Explore prompt engineering courses.

Don’t solely rely on AI tools—especially for entry-level tech jobs

“AI is a must-have tool for your modern day developer. And so I think that you should definitely embrace it, but here's the catch. As someone who is new to tech, AI can be a crutch,” said Angie.

“As impressive as [AI] tools are, they often make mistakes. I've had to correct these tools more times than I can count because [they’ve] given me some over-engineered approach to solving something that should be much simpler. But I was only able to even recognize that it was over-engineered because I actually understand software engineering, right? 

“And so for those who are just coming into the field, I think that's a really important thing to emphasize—that you use it as an assistant. . . . Don't use it as the gospel truth where you aren't thinking for yourself anymore.”

Build soft skills like complex problem solving and empathy

Part of using AI strategically involves knowing what it’s good at—and what it isn’t. “AI is good at rules-based, very defined task-based stuff, whereas humans are better at complex problem solving and empathy and nuance and ambiguity,” said Amber. 

“Maybe that'll change at some point, but I feel like there's things that we're just inherently better at. So, you know, [focus] on complex problem solving, architecting, leadership, management, ethical decision making, negotiation, diplomacy, all of these things, even if that's not kind of your job.

“You might think, ‘Oh, I just want to write code all day.’ There's still a lot of soft skills involved to be successful in that around communication and teamwork and collaboration and so on.”

Develop soft skills for today’s workplace.

Get hands-on experience with AI tools

One of the best ways to get familiar with AI technology is to get hands-on experience with it.

“Pick a language that you wanna use, pick a project that you wanna build, and just go out there and do it. I'm all for formal training obviously, too, but I think just getting hands-on with the tools is super, super helpful,” advised Amber.

“Go pick a tool, any tool. . . . Or maybe pick a couple different ones and see how they compare. Like, would you prefer images out of Midjourney or DALL-E? I think just doing and being a builder is huge as far as practical next steps.”

Look for ways to apply AI expertise in your current role

Companies are looking for ways to incorporate AI into their products and operations. But only 12% of tech professionals have significant experience working with AI. This creates new opportunities for employees to hone their AI skills through their current job.

“I was just talking to an employee at my company, and he had shifted to working on some research around how AI might be able to improve what we're delivering and things like that,” said Angie. “So I thought that was really interesting because he's a subject matter expert in what we do, which is not AI.

“But he wanted to get into that space. And so this was a way for him to do that without needing to go to another company and try to compete with people who are literally looking for PhD graduates with deep experience in AI.”

“I'm sure whatever company you work for would love to hear your ideas about how they might be able to employ AI. . . . Whatever you're already doing, just start thinking about how [you] might be able to incorporate AI into this. You don't have to force it, but are there ideas that you have? You might be able to explore an opportunity to work on those.”

Build essential AI skills that boost your human intelligence in the AI age

While the endless AI talk can feel all-consuming, don’t let it consume you. “Bring your human self to the equation. Don't mindlessly accept the output from these tools,” advised Angie. “I think that embracing AI will do you well as long as you stay in the driver's seat.”

As Amber added, “It's a co-pilot, not the pilot.”

Watch Angie and Amber’s video discussion to get all of their insights.

Start building your AI skills and resiliency with Pluralsight—sign up for a free trial and gain access to thousands of online courses for technical skills.

Pluralsight Content Team

Pluralsight C.

The Pluralsight Content Team delivers the latest industry insights, technical knowledge, and business advice. As tech enthusiasts, we live and breathe the industry and are passionate about sharing our expertise. From programming and cloud computing to cybersecurity and AI, we cover a wide range of topics to keep you up to date and ahead of the curve.

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