Saturday, November 02, 2019

Advice to a college student regarding career options

A friend's son asked me for advice about what to do after graduation. Here is what I said:

I envy your options!
Once I told a friend’s son he should get his merchant seaman’s license and travel the world. He went on to graduate from Yale and is now a nuclear sub engineer in the Navy. Not exactly the swashbuckling option I dreamed about – but for the few days a year they are in port he gets to see the world anyway!
There are many people who could give you much better advice than me. You probably have access to experts at your school. Talk to your friend and family – what a great conversation starter! Your choices may be constrained by student loans or a girlfriend  
The concept of constraints is really important – your life is as open now as the sea – everything that happens after this freezes a part of it.
Life is simultaneously long and short. Poets and playwrights have pondered the best use of it over and over. I like the advice of Seneca, Shakespeare and Emerson.
As for careers: they are temporal. I’d keep my options as open as possible. I understand people your age will have over a dozen . My advice is to make the next career more interesting than the last.
You’ve got to be comfortable with the mission, meaning, rewards, work:life balance and risk.  I just made that up – please don’t infer any metaphysical importance to that list 😊
That said, I believe being a lawyer is no longer the right career choice for most people. It’s expensive to get a law degree and many of my friends think the decline in income prospects combined with the debt service/opportunity cost has made it a bad investment.
You’ve got to be excited about whatever you want to do – even if it’s for a little while (1-2 yrs.) The major benefit may be experience. There may never be another time in your life when your tolerance for risk is as high as it is now. (No kids, mortgage, roots, etc.) So go for it!
Ask yourself: do I want to find adventure or vocation? What have you already done that interested you? What networks have you plugged into with the most interesting people? I’d look at the quality of the people you work with as a form of compensation. They will also help you create your professional network.
Do you have a calling? Some are motivated by their religion, an internal quest or desire to help solve a problem in a charitable way. Some only keep score by the money they make. At your 10th or 40th reunion what do you want to say to the friends that remain when they ask: What do you do?
At my age I think about epitaphs 😊  What 3-5 words will define you?
With your education and family you truly have unlimited potential. DO NOT LET YOUR DEGREES LIMIT YOU. Don’t be put in a box. Most of the smart people I know had no clue about a plan for life until it happened to them.
I’ve gone on too long and don’t think I’ve answered any of your questions.  Here are a few more places to look:
Good luck!

Trump's Twitter Feed

A great article in the NYT appeared today: Trump's Twitter Feed. President Trump is the first to employ this social media platform to such advantage and it would be safe to say society is having a hard time dealing with the consequences.

There were many fine comments posted by readers of the Times. I felt compelled to post mine. These ideas have been rumbling around in my head for a couple years.

Two problems of social media: anonymity & free. These twins breed unrestrained hate like garbage rotting in the sun.  
Force every account to be verified and add a nominal cost to use the platforms. Traditional TV, Radio, magazines and newspapers employ writers and, if they deliver valuable information, attract subscribers and advertisers. They spend money to create and distribute their news/views which are curated by experts with standards. 
We stumbled into electronic media platforms and became drunk on free.
Anonymity has unleashed our id. The movie Forbidden Planet from 1956 foretells this story and its consequences. It doesn't end well.