Passion and Purpose – 7/22/18

Things that I love:

Animals, travelling, programming, math, statistics, outdoor activities, basketball, astronomy, reading

When I was at my best:

I think I was at my best when I spent the summer as a junior analyst for Boxwood Means, Inc.  During this summer, I was tasked with helping to create a model for assessing the reliability of predictions of property prices. I wrote a lot of code in Python, and most of my contribution to the project involved cleaning up the data sets the company had been given in order to make them more easily able to be analyzed using the more senior programmers’ code. The project was a relatively minor side project for the company, but this meant I was able to actually contribute meaningfully to it myself. It was really exciting to me because I was able to apply some of the knowledge that I had obtained from my AP Computer Science class in high school while also recognizing that real world programming was nothing like the programming I had done in class. It was really enjoyable because I got to feel for the first time ever like the work I was doing and the program I was writing was actually meaningful–parts of my code ended up being incorporated into the final product that was sold to an actual real estate company. I wasn’t just creating a project that thousands of others had done before me–one that the world didn’t really need because it had no real applications but was designed helped me build up some of the fundamentals of programming. I was creating an entirely new product that was actually going to be sold to and used and make some sort of difference in the world, small though it may be. This experience planted me firmer in my belief that data science was the right field for me to go into because I enjoyed this internship so much. During this internship, I experienced what it was like to collaborate with actual professional programmers, and I realized that programming is not nearly such a solitary job as many people expect it is. I was constantly communicating with programmers who were in other states and other countries via conference calls–we had to always be on the same page to make sure that each of our code could be incorporated together into an effective final product. I really liked the collaborative environment because all the people I worked with were very patient and willing to help me learn, but they didn’t treat me as though I had no skills and  nothing to offer the company. They all seemed to recognize that I had some potential and seemed to genuinely want to help me meet my potential, and this supportive environment made me love this position.

GT1000 Purpose Diagram

Reflection on my Venn Diagram:

I’ve been surprised to find that I don’t think the category of things I love has changed much at all since I was young. Many of the activities I used to love such as reading, writing, listening to music, and hiking have been the same throughout most of my life. I think the main characteristic that has changed has been which other circles these activities intercept with. I used to want to be a park ranger at a national park because I loved hiking, and I later went through a phase where I wanted to be a zoologist because I love animals. Unfortunately, I think many of these things were pushed to the back of my mind because I later figured I couldn’t really get paid for them. I’m lucky that I have found other fields such as data science that genuinely interest me and excite me as well as offering somewhat better job prospects. I think I will still be able to enjoy the things I love while working in data science–I can hike, visit zoos and museums, watch documentaries about subjects of interest, read, and listen to music all I want in the evenings and on the weekends. I have faith that I will be able to keep up  with my other passions on the side, but I also recognize that if data science doesn’t work out, some of my other areas of interest may be worth some more consideration. After reading several articles about the importance of finding one’s passion, I’m a little bit terrified of investing so much time into a profession that I end up hating. I think the best way for me to handle this is to do internships in my current chosen field as early as possible and not be afraid to acknowledge that I don’t like it. This diagram showed me that I clearly have a diverse multitude of interests, so I shouldn’t be afraid of deciding that one of them isn’t for me because there are plenty of other options out there for me–in truth, I think I could be genuinely happy working in several of these different fields. I think my ikigai aligns pretty well with the values I outlined last week. One of the most important values I chose was “fun,” and I haven’t even considered pursuing jobs in any of the fields that I don’t find fun or interesting. It’s just not really necessary because there are so many different fields that I do find fun and interesting. My next chosen value was “purpose,” and many of the passions that I’m considering pursuing fall under the “things the world needs” category. I think I could do meaningful work in many of the fields that I mentioned I’m passionate about in my diagram. My last value, “excitement,” is clearly present in my ikigai. Data science is currently one of the newest, fastest growing, and most exciting fields in the world. My other passions aside from this will allow to maintain an exciting life with a balance of groundbreaking work and exciting activities outside of work.