There is No Career Path

Last month I had the pleasure of attending not one but two back-to-back career fairs, one at Temple and one at Drexel.  It was energizing to talk to so many bright and ambitious young students who were interested in hearing about my career trajectory and what it is like to work at my firm.  I ran out of business cards and left with many resumes.  It was a good day.

During a panel discussion that I was a part of at one of the events, someone asked about what they could do now to start down their career path.  Seeing so many non-US students in the room, I noted that as a child of immigrants it was laid out before me that life was about studying hard, getting a good job (preferably in a technical field so you could make good money without much stress), and raising a family.

Perhaps I had pursued or was espousing a more unconventional course than what my parents had hoped for me, but it occurs to me that given how much disruption is occurring in our global economy, there is no such thing as a clear and straight career path, and that in fact it was not the most risk-averse approach to follow the course laid out before me by parents.  Rather, the least risky thing to do is to try lots of different things, in school and in internships, not only to maximize the options available to you but also to give you practice in finding common themes in disparate industries.

Who knows what kind of work world my kids will grow into.  I sure as heck want them to study hard and get good grades in important school subjects.  But my advice to them is identical to what I said to the Temple and Drexel students last week, which is that we don't know what tomorrow will require in terms of skills and disciplines, but we do know that those with a diversity of experiences and a depth of practice in making sense of them all will be best positioned to flourish.
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