In my last post I lamented that I have never loved any job in my career. So, what would I love to do?
Using guides like What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard Nelson Bolles I took a look at what I wanted to do along with how I wanted to do it, who I wanted to work with and what type of environment I wanted. Many of my current desires are different from those I had when I was fresh out of college at 21 years old. For example, I thrived in a social atmosphere when I was younger. Talking with like-minded computer scientists and engineers made me stronger in my chosen profession and allowed me to return valuable input that was respected and appreciated. Now, after years of working for a very meeting-centric organization, I value time alone to plan, produce results, detach from the world and recharge my internal battery. The shift from a Myers-Briggs extrovert to introvert extends beyond the office. Apparently now I'm Greta Garbo, and I want to be left alone.
If I had to express my goal in a single word (not easy to do) it would be "creative" - that's the word that sticks in my head. I thrive when given the opportunity to create something out of nothing, or to take something that was on its last legs, put it to bed, and give new life to a next-generation replacement. Some times this has been through the creation of software services. At other times it has been through artistic efforts. A few of my favorite projects have been:
- Creating the backend of a cross-compiler that generated MIPS assembly code to test Si and GaAs MIPS chips. (RCA, c. 1986)
- Customizing 1:6 scale action figures of my father and maternal grandfather, including accessories and packaging. (2004)
- Creating a test construction system using a linear optimization model to solve the non-trivial problem of selecting an optimal set of multiple choice questions for standardized tests. (NBME, c. 2005)
In the context of my career, even with my most satisfying accomplishments I was working in domains that my employer specified rather than asking myself "What things really float your boat?" I still love and enjoy many of the things that floated my boat when I was younger. Modeling and miniatures (think "G.I. Joe"). Math. Comics and animation. Drawing and painting. Eating and cooking. Storytelling. I've dreamed of walking the red carpet as an Oscar-nominated director at the Academy Awards.* I've enjoyed teaching young, inquiring minds as an adjunct professor.
So, where does that leave me and my dream job? After a lot of consideration I believe the world of STEAM is calling. STEAM is an acronym that refers to an intertwining of the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math. The term, by itself, is fairly generic and doesn't represent a dream job per se. But I have a concept in mind that does.
Still to come in my series of career-based posts: Making STEAM a reality.
* Although I haven't yet walked the red carpet as an Oscar nominee, I have attended the 2012 Tony Awards with a VIP package, an experience of a lifetime for which I am very grateful.