I spent half a day last week trying something new. I have a very good relationship with the Cohen Career Center at William and Mary and have been on their Advisory Board for a year or so now. But this was my first time working directly with students by conducting mock interviews. This is a great opportunity for the students to get some idea of what being interviewed is like but more importantly get feedback beyond either an offer letter or a black hole of nothingness. Learning by binary response is quite hard.
I had one interaction that stuck with me. One student when I asked them why they had chosen their major that they had looked at the earning potential of careers. I am sure this is a very common thing to do and I understand the temptation. It is an easy metric to compare, it translates very well into the American “stuff” culture, and it is much easier to compare than “happiness.”
What I have realized over the last 4 years is that being happy in your career is a far more important than purely money. (And before someone says it, yes, I know there is a baseline level of income for safety and security that must be met.) I tried to share with this student that he should choose the career path that he feels passionate about, that will bring him personal fulfillment, that will surround him with great people; making that choice will bring happiness in the long term.
I can say that with certainty because that is what I have been able to do recently. After almost 4 years, I have left my job at Swisslog and have taken a job at 3M Cogent Systems. 3M Cogent is the descendant by acquisition of 3GI, so in a sense I am coming home to my roots. (3GI being my first employer after college.)
It is an understatement to say I am very excited by the move. I have a great team of engineers and even in the initial week I think we have gelled well and will do great things. As I get more into things, I hope I will feel inspired to share observations and lessons I have learned.