For any professional his/her knowledge, skills, aptitudes, and attitudes are his/her assets. It is important therefore to be current adapting to newer information, knowledge, technologies, and methodologies. As the value of our services depend on how well adapted to the present moment. As with any asset knowledge is time related, and as many things knowledge can get old as groceries in the supermarket or outdated as a ball game ticket of the previous season.
Currently I am reading a book published in 2000 by Andrew Hunt and David Thomas titled "Pragmatic Programmer" (ISBN 0-201-61622-X) and even though it has been several years since the book first appear some of the basic ideas as all good basic ideas have not been outdated. I have to admit that some of the websites, programs, and social media have indeed advanced and other not mentioned in the book have been created. but overall is a great book that I highly recommend even to those not interested in computer programming.
The main argument of Hunt and Thomas is based on the market for stock, where diversification, managing actualization, balancing high-risk-high-gain stock with low-risk-low-gain, and building your portfolio are used to help the reader find how to grow and manage risk at the same time that s/he builds a "personal" portfolio. The book is full of good advise like read a good book every month, a non technical, not related to his/her field so s/he can understand human nature better in order to better satisfy the needs of his/her clients or employer. As one thing is for sure, once one is outdated one will not longer serve the needs of clients or employers.
One aspect of building yourself as a portfolio is the need to network, getting wired the authors say! By this one can understand that belonging to professional networks, one will be able to see what are the current trends, one will be able to explore new and exciting ideas that might be the foundation of new skills. Think of those who learned "Java" when it was in its infancy and was easy to learn and to get onboard. Even though learning it was a high-risk endeavor some did get onboard and now they are at the top of this widely use technology.
So two question I ask now: one, how am I keeping current and valuable to my clients and employer?
two, How can I teach my science students skills that help them to keep current?