Published on Apr 24, 2023
ChatGPT is all the rage right now – I cannot scroll through my news feed without seeing a story about its impact. Whether authors are warning about the elimination of jobs or discussing the harms of artificial intelligence, I think we should take a moment to carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages of this new technology, especially as it related to your career planning.
What is ChatGPT?
ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot developed by OpenAI that enables users to have human-like (casual) conversations with a chatbot that can answer questions, solve problems, and complete tasks (like composing emails, creating code, scheduling meetings, etc.). ChatGPT comprises a dataset that includes 300 billion words and 570GB of data obtained from books, Wikipedia entries, articles and other pieces of writing on the Internet.
But what does this mean for college students and your career development?
Leveraging ChatGPT for your career
For career management, ChatGPT is best used as a creative, brainstorming tool. For example, writing a cover letter, resume or networking email can be intimidating when starting from scratch. But you can input your desired job title and excerpts of your skills and experience to receive language to begin working with. I warn you: DO NOT simply copy and paste this text into a document and hit send to an employer. ChatGPT does give you a template to work from, but it’s critical that you adjust the phrasing and enhance the content so it is more authentic to you!
MU Career Services recently hosted a panel of recruiters and faculty members to discuss AI in the job search and most say that they are fine with it as a resource to aid job seekers. But they can usually spot a 100% AI generated cover letter or resume. While it isn’t disqualifying, you will need to interview well and demonstrate strong communication and decision-making skills (without the aid of a bot).
Caution: What to avoid doing with ChatGPT
ChatGPT also has some information about employment trends and salary information. However, please recognize that this can be incredibly general data. For example, if I type in “average salary computer engineer” I get one figure ($119,560), but if I type in “median salary entry-level computer engineer” I get another number ($73,385). If I enter “average salary of St. Louis engineer” I get a third figure ($88,940). You really must know precisely what to input to get accurate data and ChatGPT even admits that “I do not have access to real-time data on salaries.” Other dependable salary sites like Salary.com and Glassdoor would be the best places to research salary information.
Also, please realize that using ChatGPT as your sole source for tasks (communications, code, research for a paper, etc.) can come with high risks and repercussions. There are cases where students have been accused of academic dishonesty because they presented AI as their own work and professionals suspended for making poor decisions when using AI on the job. To avoid a situation like this, please inform yourself by reviewing Mizzou’s policy regarding AI and academic integrity.
It’s a brave new world out there. As technology advances to create more efficiency and automation, remember that ChatGPT is simply a tool, not the final answer. I like to think of AI like a GPS system in your car: it can make suggestions on where to go and how to get there, but ultimately you are the one driving the vehicle on your personal career journey. So be thoughtful about leveraging how this technology can help you get to you’re headed!