What is the innovation economy and why should you want to be a part of it

By Kailey Raymond

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First, let’s start with what is the innovation economy. It sounds an awful lot like a buzzword. Well, maybe, but as buzzy as it may sound, innovation economics is a real thing. Scouts honor. This relatively new theory of economics is based upon the idea that knowledge, entrepreneurship, innovation, technology and collaboration fuel economic growth.

Look no further than the We are Made in New York campaign, which seeks to connect the city’s tech startups with its jobs seekers. Government is now supporting the idea that technology and innovation spurs economic growth. Mayor Bloomberg stated in Mashable, “The growth of the tech industry in New York City has been a critical part of weathering the nation’s economic downturn, far better than the rest of the country.”

The Innovation Economy in New York

A quick glance at the Made in New York map shows over a thousand tech companies in NYC that are hiring. Who knew there were even a thousand tech companies in NYC, let alone that they were all growing their teams!? What about all this talk about unemployment and underemployment, you may ask? The numbers are pretty scary, it’s true. Almost 54% of bachelor’s degree holders under the age of 25 last year were either jobless or underemployed. That’s 1.5 million people. So, what’s the number one reason why you should want to be a part of the innovation economy? That’s where many of the jobs are hiding!

But, is this just a bubble? Will the innovation economy slow down soon? To that fear, I borrow from an old adage - the only thing that is constant is change. That means there will always be innovation. Because what is innovation, if not change?

There has always been an innovation economy, we just haven’t put a name on it before. From factories and industry, economies of scale, to computer software and cloud-based technologies, every generation has had one. And it is here, in the innovation economy, that there will always be jobs. These are the jobs on the cutting edge that, often, there aren’t yet names for. I look around me and see growth hackers, technovangelists, wizards and ninjas- the list goes on of titles that didn’t exist just a few years ago. The growth hackers and wizards of the world are the job makers of the innovation economy. These job descriptions evolve everyday, reflecting the fast-paced tech environment.

The People in the Innovation Economy

There is something unique about this group of people. Many of them did not go out and seek a job, instead, they sought a gap. They found the intersection of a problem that they’re passionate about that aligns with their skill set, and a company willing to take a chance on them. If you’re not looking to shoot the gap (I am from New Jersey after all) and create your own , have no fear, there is a place for you in the innovation economy. Try googling “startup jobs” or “tech jobs.” There are dozens of career fairs and job boards specifically dedicated to this niche because they are scrambling to fill positions- the Made in NY campaign is just one example.

But more than just any job, the innovation economy is filled with meaningful employment opportunities with extremely bright and talented people who are changing the world. More than the whispers of kegerators, ping pong tables, free breakfast, and relaxed dress codes (true, true, sometimes true, and true as long as you’re not meeting with a government official), the tech community is an extremely tight-knit and supportive group of people that are passionate about what they do and band together to help other community members succeed.

The innovation economy is an interesting place to start your career. With thousands of open positions, and many more that haven’t even been created yet, a career in the innovation economy is sure to be exciting. As the times and technologies change, so will your skill set. If you’re ready to learn and grow, to constantly be challenged by your work, and to be excited to come to work everyday and by the people surrounding you, the innovation economy might be the right place to begin your career search.