Don’t sweat it

It’s hard to believe that this class is already wrapping up and it’s not even November. I still remember how quiet the room was the very first day as we were waiting for class to start. I was honestly very skeptical when Professor Kane said that the class would be impossible to quiet down after the trip because everyone would be buddy-buddy. I’m glad I was wrong. I can confidently say that TechTrek has been one of the most impactful classes that I’ve taken in college. It’s hard to imagine that any other university could put together an experience like this. I knew going in that the BC alumni network was strong, but being able to witness firsthand just how far former Eagles would go to make our experience the best it could be, blew me away. Everyone genuinely wanted to help us out. Beyond that, I think the concepts we learned about in the class are incredibly applicable to everyday life. Technology will continue to evolve and disrupt industries over our lifetime; it’s not something that we can ignore.
It was incredible to be able to see these companies first hand, inside-out. I will always remember the opportunities we had to ask these executive tough questions that were all answered with complete transparency. Each company operated so differently and measured their success with different goals and metrics. Every company had a different culture even if they had similar functions. I always hear about culture fit and how important it is to be a culture fit; I realize now that it’s not just about you fitting the company’s culture, but finding a company that aligns with your values and beliefs.
Through my time in college, the one stress I keep coming back to is, what am I passionate about? What do I want to do? Am I in the right major? Every time someone asks me what I want to do after college, I give a different answer, because I really don’t know. The internships I’ve held my past few years have definitely helped to narrow it down; I’ve been able to figure out some things I really don’t like (social media marketing, busywork, sales), as well as some things I found a real interest in (analytics, leading my own project, creative work, working cross functionally).
If there’s one takeaway that I got from this trip, it’s that it’s ok to not know.
Almost every single person we talked to is in a role that has little to nothing to do with their first job, and none of them showed any regrets about that. So many of them started in traditional banking roles and now found themselves as product managers, and account managers. I learned about so many roles that I didn’t even know existed, because they had created the roles themselves. How could I have known that I could’ve been a Youtube trend analyst, or a Chief of People at Facebook? The traditional career path is becoming increasingly antiquated. No longer are we stuck in one company, trying climb to climb the ladder from associate to manager to director to VP; our generation has the liberty to hop around from job to job staying 1-2 years in each, with the freedom to learn anything we’d like.
I came across this really interesting infographic on the idea of Ikigai – a Japanese concept for purpose, meaning to life, and satisfaction.
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I can’t say I’m a firm believer that your job is something you have to truly love; that idea, is really a privilege that few people have. Those who do find something that fulfills their ikigai are incredibly lucky.
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I personally like this diagram, however crude it is, a little more. The people we spoke to on the trip all enjoyed working at their companies and were proud of the work they were doing, but it doesn’t mean that it’s their ikigai, and that’s ok. The world doesn’t necessarily need another engineer at Dropbox and you may not love sales and training at Goldman Sachs but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good job. I want a job that doesn’t suck, that pays be well, and that I’m good at. I love creative pursuits like art, music, dancing, drawing, but it doesn’t mean that I want to pursue a career in those subjects. It’s incredibly important to find hobbies or other interests or side hustles to balance out your life. I do know that I’m good with technology, it’s something I’m interested in learning more about, and it’s a huge market.
The companies we visited really drew me in. I loved the energy of the city, and the ever-changing nature of tech companies, constantly navigating new regulations and keeping up with the latest innovations in an effort to survive the competitive landscape. I know that I’ll be ok and I’m excited to see where these experiences take me in the future.

6 thoughts on “Don’t sweat it

  1. Really thoughtful and concise blog post, Anthony! I’m very drawn to the concept of the ikgai and it’s been something that I’ve been reflecting on as well, although I think it’s fairly comprehensive and layered, and finding something in that developmental sweet spot is going to be somewhat extremely difficult. I think this trip was a nice opportunity to venture outside the “BC bubble” or the social illusion that there are only a few acceptable “paths” you should take upon graduation in order to be considered respectable. I think that mindset is toxic categorization. Moreover, I think throughout our lifetimes, we’re going to hold several jobs, none of which I believe will be absolutely “perfect” but I think the combination of those experiences and outcomes and developments you derive from the array of jobs is what distinguishes the different qualities in careers.

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  2. I love the concept of Ikigai. I think it holds alot of value for how to think about your career. I like your adapted figure too. The one key that is important to realize, however, is the things you are good at, the things that suck, and the things people will pay you to do all change over time. It’s important to continually realign to make sure you are keeping up with a moving target.

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  3. Great post Anthony. I also really enjoy the concept of the ikigai and your more realistic interpretation of it within your life. I also agree with Professor Kane that the hard part lies in continually balancing the spot between these three as your skillset, passions, and outside technologies and market factors change. On our trip, I similarly thought it was super fascinating to hear about such creative roles that I would have never thought were “real” jobs, like a Youtube Trend Analyst that gets to go on talk shows and have so many other cool opportunities. There are so many opportunities for all of us in the class, so I really appreciate your advice to not sweat it!

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  4. Well said, Anthony! I completely agree with your first point about our class. It was great getting to know you and everyone else, I wish that it wasn’t over! I really like your diagram too, and I think that a job in tech would definitely fit somewhere in things that don’t suck, things that people will pay me to do, and things I’m good at by the time graduation rolls around. Thanks for sharing.

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  5. I really enjoyed this post, Anthony! I am in the same boat as you when you say that you are stressed about finding what you are passionate about. Your point about gaining insights through different experiences and learning what you do and don’t like is great advice and is something that I have also been trying to do. It is a daunting task to commit to a job right out of college, especially when you are unsure if you will like it or not. I think the insight you provided as well as the graphs really initiate deep thought about choosing the best job for you. Thank you again for sharing.

    – Nick

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  6. Great concluding post, Anthony! I really like the two diagrams you used in this post. Just like you, I am still trying to figure out my passions and my interests and how to best align these with a profession. I really liked Goldman Sachs leader and BC alum Lindsay LoBue’s advice to begin to determine your passions like by considering what you don’t like and then what you do like. Although this idea sounds simple, it is the first step to determining passions and then a profession. We are lucky to have the opportunity to explore career paths and discern what’s best for us. So, as you hinted at, we should view this opportunity as exciting rather than nerve-wracking.

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