I mean really. What is it? Success? Money? Happiness? Love? A sense of purpose? A legacy maybe? Actually, these are kind of easy ones to consider and answer. In fact, whichever one you choose, you kind of choose them all at once without knowing. The more interesting question is as follows: “What do we want to do in life?”. I’m talking about the one magical, exciting, yet sometimes terrifying phrase: our careers.
I don’t know what I want to do with my life — many many many of us
I’ve been wondering about my place in the universe for a very long time now. As a child and teenager, I kind of fell in love with everything™. I watched Dexter’s Laboratory and wanted to be a chemist. I read so much in my science books that I really wanted to become a surgeon. I fell in love with space pretty early and remember being 11 years old listening in as Cassini reached Saturn. I remember seeing images in my head of that one Discovery channel series called “Space.” You know, the one they played over and over again where they would talk about the moons of Jupiter and Saturn and how Europa has an ocean.
I didn’t become any of these things.
Growing up in Lebanon, and up until the second semester of 9th grade, I was a straight-A student. However, I always had doubts about education. I remember sitting in class during 4th grade’s history class and wondering why we’re memorizing history word for word and getting penalized for missing a conjunction. Honestly, I only studied to keep my parents happy and proud. Education is a pretty big part of Lebanese culture.
I want everyone that hasn’t found their place in life to have that chance
And then boom. I was in 9th grade. In other words, I entered the age where rebellion becomes a way of life. My revolution was my own education. In that second semester of 9th grade, I decided to fail. The idea was simple: One of the school’s best students suddenly went from straight-As to failing classes — surely the administration would do something about it.
To make a long story short: they didn’t.
Again, to make a long story short, coding pretty much took off from there. Better job after better job. Learning more and more. I eventually moved to the bay area where I got into the startup game and started learning all about business, product development, big data, and everything you need to know about the big ol’ tech world. It was a success, objectively speaking, but it SUCKED.
I meet people on a daily basis that are extremely intelligent, filled with wisdom, and have everything it takes to make a dent in the universe
Here I am: A successful designer, software engineer, and product head. But now I ask myself: “Why me?” Specifically, “Why only me?” You see, the absolute core value that embodies everything I do in life is justice. Is it fair that I got this chance and others didn’t? No. Is it fair that I get to be successful over something as simple as writing some code into an editor while others drown in their day to day boring jobs? No. This isn’t a jab at these folks. This is an outcry. I meet people on a daily basis that are extremely intelligent, filled with wisdom, and have everything it takes to make a dent in the universe. Actually, that was a lie. They have everything except one tiny piece: an opportunity.
Although my story started very young, A small business owner took a chance on me 8 years ago and gave me an entry level web development job when I was only 17. He gave me an opportunity. He didn’t have to. I had no resume. I had no degree, not even a high school one. Hell, I was straight off the boat having just moved from Lebanon. In one way or another, yes, I was in the right place at the right time. And sure, I worked hard to get there. I made moves. I applied to that job. But still, I was straight up given an opportunity. More importantly, I learned most of what I know today on the job, in that office, during work hours. Basically, I faked it till I made it.
Sorry to bore you with this speech, so let’s get straight into it. I want this reality to change. I want everyone that hasn’t found their place in life to have that chance. And with the internet being as big as it is, we have the tools to reach everyone, everywhere.
You may have heard programs like Hack Reactor. If not, I’ll make it short. It’s a 3-month rigorous program that teaches you how to program and guarantees you a 100K+ salary by the end of it. Pretty crazy huh? Well, the truth is, not everyone wants to program. I want anyone and everyone to be able to become amazing at what they do.
But then again, who knows what they want to do? There’s a crazy amount of programs out there that teach you how to code, how to get better at your job, how to communicate better, how to become a better plumber, and just about everything. If you want to improve, you’ll find a way to do that. However, the pre-requisite is finding what you want to do, and that’s exactly what I want to solve.
In my very brief stint in college before I dropped out, I had a class called Honors Colloquium. The class was taught by an Astronomy professor and it was as follows: At the beginning of the semester, the professor explained an equation that allows students to approximate the amount of intelligent civilizations in our galaxy. They’d plug their guesses in and get a number. During the course, the professor would bring in every other lead professor in the school to present briefly on their areas. It was absolutely brilliant. It exposed me as a student to so many different subjects and gave me a deep understanding of each subject. It was like a stream of TED talks in a learning environment. The idea was simple: We would complete the same equation by the end of the course except with educated guesses this time around.
I want to repeat that experience, except with real life careers. I want people to really explore what’s out there and the amazing professions they could be doing. And hopefully, one of these professions would peek their interests and they would pursue it. I want them to realize their purpose.
I have all sorts of ideas on how to make this happen, but they are mainly random thoughts. Maybe a string of internships at partner companies? Maybe mini courses that introduce you to different careers? Maybe professional coaching folks as they grow into all of that? Maybe something else.
A few days ago, I quit my job. My goal is to focus on making this dream of mine come true. Specifically, my goal is to find out what people love and truly dream about, and then help make their dreams a reality. Truth is, up until now, I didn’t know what I wanted to do in life either.
How will I make it happen? Stay tuned, as I’ll be blogging the journey. The next post will cover the first part of any journey: educating myself further.
P.S. if this project peeks your interest, feel free to email me: firstname.lastname@example.org