Next Gen Investing

3 ways to use AI right now to get ahead—if you do, you're 'really going to succeed,' says expert

ChatGPT can be a helpful job-hunting tool, if used correctly, according to career coach Sarah Doody.
Sopa Images | Lightrocket | Getty Images

If you're only using artificial intelligence to edit selfies or find dinner recipes, you aren't getting the most out of it.

These tools can help you get ahead in your career, according to Sarah Hoffman, VP of AI and machine learning research at Fidelity Investments. She's a particular fan of using ChatGPT, OpenAI's popular generative AI chatbot, in a professional context.

"The people who figure out how [to] use this tool to be better at my job and do things differently than I did before are the ones that are really going to succeed," Hoffman said recently at the Fast Company Innovation Festival 2023.

If you become proficient at using ChatGPT — a version of which is free to use for anyone with an OpenAI account — you can make yourself more efficient, creative and knowledgeable, Hoffman said. Here's how.

Improve your productivity and efficiency

Whether you're drafting a report, creating a PowerPoint presentation or writing software code, generative AI can help you "just speed up the process," Hoffman said.

If you ask ChatGPT to "write me a template for a presentation about fashion merchandising," the tool will create a detailed outline for you in seconds. Now, your job isn't to write a presentation from scratch. It's to edit and proofread a template that already exists.

This is particularly useful for anyone who struggles with blank page syndrome, staring at a white piece of paper or screen for hours on end. It may be less useful for someone who lacks attention to detail — because you really do need to double-check, or even triple-check, the chatbot's work.

When asked a series of 512 software engineering questions, ChatGPT got 52% of the answers incorrect, an August 2023 study from Purdue University found. Seventy-seven percent of those answers were long-winded, further showing the need for human input.

"You might need a human in the loop in many cases, because this technology [can] make things up, so you might want someone to verify it," said Hoffman.

Get better at brainstorming

Hoffman likes to use ChatGPT "as a brainstorming partner," she said. In this context, the tool's mistakes and fabrications don't really matter — you're only using it for inspiration.

"I don't mind if it makes something up [while I'm] brainstorming," Hoffman said. "I'm not using it as a research [or] factual tool."

In a recent test, Make It asked ChatGPT: What's a creative way for me to teach a lesson to my class?

"Incorporate hands-on activities or simulations that actively engage your students," the chatbot responded. "For example, you could use role-playing exercises, interactive games or real-world case studies relevant to your subject."

ChatGPT also recommended using "videos, animations and interactive online tools to make the learning experience more dynamic."

Most teachers are probably already familiar with many of those strategies, but the point isn't to learn something you don't know. You're establishing a jumping-off point for orienting your brain in the right direction, said Hoffman.

Ask dumb questions without fear or judgment

Sixty-two percent of students report feeling discouraged from asking questions in class because they worry others will judge them, a 2020 study from the University of Central Florida found. The same phenomenon occurs in workplaces, said Hoffman.

"If I have a question, I might ask a coworker ... 'Hey, can you explain this topic to me?' If I still don't understand it, I probably will not ask a second time," Hoffman said. "But I will go into a generative AI tool and say, 'I still don't understand. Can you explain it to me as a college student? Can you explain it to me as a fourth grader? Can you use a metaphor?'"

In this context, you definitely need to verify that any information generated is factually accurate. Depending on your query, the consequences could be dire. Still, using AI can at least help you alleviate some anxiety around asking your boss or professor questions. 

"There's no judgment with AI," said Hoffman. You can't say the same for humans. And that makes it really, really powerful."

DON'T MISS: Want to be smarter and more successful with your money, work & life? Sign up for our new newsletter!

Want to earn more and land your dream job? Join the free CNBC Make It: Your Money virtual event on Oct. 17 at 1 p.m. ET to learn how to level up your interview and negotiating skills, build your ideal career, boost your income and grow your wealth. Register for free today.

This 30-year-old earns $134,000 as a food photographer in Canada
This 30-year-old earns $134,000 as a food photographer in Canada