Software and Life Choices

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runjorel from our live community sent me a very thought-provoking email. He is currently attending Grad school, studying Business Information Technology. Unfortunately, however, he’s finding himself not as satisfied as he thought he would, and asked my opinion on a very good question. Here is his email:

Here’s the situation. I am a 27 year old student in grad school studying Business Information Technology. I was really excited about going to grad school because I thought I would be surrounded by intelligent people trying to solve problems through innovation. Unfortunately, what I am realizing is that the classes just teach you how to be a better corporate employee and all of my classmates are concerned about retiring rich at the age of 35 through easy money. That’s just not my cup of tea. I want to DO SOMETHING!!!

Despite my passion for technology and writing code, I have always felt that I don’t have anything that I can contribute back to society. I mean some people have the skills to build houses for victims of natural disasters all the way to people who have the science know-how to engineer innovative products that help people in Africa prevent starvation, etc. And then, here I am…a software developer for a 10 person company that’s going to school at night. The last thing I want to do when I graduate is get some ‘cush’ job at a big corporation.

I was starting to feel hopeless with that same old nagging question, “What the heck am I going to do with my life?!” until I saw Hans Rosling’s presentation at TED. I know this sounds weird, but the software he used in that presentation kind of uplifted me/inspired me.
So having said all that, (whew), a friend of mine and I were shooting ideas back and forth about how software can help people. And I dont just mean some iPhone app that helps someone find which Peet’s Coffee shop is closest to them ;), but something that really benefits society. I wont get into any of ideas here because that’s a completely different email, but I was wondering if you had any ideas. OR I was wondering if you knew of any organizations that need help?

I know its a pretty ‘far-out-there’ question, but if you have any perspective in that matter I would love to know what you think.

First of all, yes it was a long email. But, you caught my attention. My degree is in English Education. The only reason I’m doing what I do today is because the Internet and the way it works fits me, and my personality. I’m able to help people and teach, so to speak, without a blackboard and reaching a much larger “classroom”. That’s where you want to be. If you create something that you’re proud of. If you create something that other people appreciate… that’s where you want to be.

You have to connect within yourself. I think it’s absolutely admirable, what you’re trying to do. I think you’re going down the right path. I’m not saying that people who choose the corporate path are wrong, but I think that largely… they won’t be happy in the long run.


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