When you hear the word futurist, what comes to mind? You might think about those fortune teller stands at the fair — for $50, you can learn at what age you’ll die, if you will ever find true love, and address any other deep-seated insecurities. But where fortune tellers will root their predictions in divine forces and mystical unexplained powers, futurists make their predictions based on stone cold facts. A futurist is a kind of consultant who makes predictions based on future trends they identify. Their point of view can even impact how companies design products or how communities run their outreach, which makes being a futurist officially one of the coolest jobs of all time.
“When I was younger I didn’t know this job existed, so I often ask myself how I ended up with it,” Ford’s in-house futurist, Sheryl Connelly, tells Bustle. “What I really wanted to do was be an artist. But when I look back I feel like it was divine intervention or that it was my destiny.”
Futurists like Connelly spend their days recognizing trends, explaining why they’re recognizing it, and suggests how the trend might make an impact on a global scale — so that brands can take advantage of that forward-thinking insight for their future products. Sound complex? I agree, which is why I was surprised to learn that it’s a field that anyone can fall into — among other mind-blowing facts about this job. Here are 12 things all future futurists should know about this unconventional career path.