One of the best things I’ve done for my career is freely helping random people.
Not constantly. But slotting a bit of time to help the random dev, data scientist, manager, or anyone thinking about their search / adjacent problems gives me immense perspective.
When helping them, I get a low pressure environment to think on my feet. I can hear about how the rubber hits the road on search adjacent fields new to me. I get a dress rehearsal to pitch crazy / half baked ideas cooking in the back of my head to see how they land.
I get the “10 years LLM experience” by taking everyone’s 6 months and multiplying it my 20 conversations :)
I get better market Intel than buying a $50k report on AI.
People are super grateful just to get some of your time. They get a few ideas. Their expectations are low.
And you gain a friend. You gain confidence about the field. You learn from them, you see what problems people are trying to solve and how.
Take phone calls. Talk to people. Could be a rando you meet at a conference. An old friend you call up to compare notes. Could be helping a hiring manager even if you don’t want to work for them. Be an opportunist - not for money, but for new problems.
With enough broad exploration and desensitization, you’ll feel gradually like you have real expertise and perspective to share with others.
You’ll bring that perspective to your employer. You’ll make yourself better. You’ll make your colleagues better. You can’t lose :)Special Thanks to John Berryman for reviewing this post and giving substantive edits and feedback!