“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
This is a question almost all of us have been asked at least once when we were young. And our obvious answer to it would be the usual ‘Policeman’, ‘Firefighter’, ‘Pilot’, ‘Engineer’, ‘Doctor’, etc. or whatever caught our fancy in that evening’s cartoon.
Irrespective of what our simple minds cooked up at the time, we would eventually be guided on to a career path that our parents think would do us the most good. Very few have the liberty to decide what they want to do before it’s too late. Speaking for all the parents out there who do this,
it is not totally wrong. You want what is right for your kids and you try to guide them towards what you think is the best for them.
I was one of the rare exceptions as a kid. I knew from a very young age that I wanted to be an engineer when I grew up. My dad being an engineer might have sparked that interest, but after dwelling more in to it, I realized that I did in fact like it. Taking apart household appliances and playing with motors I ripped apart from toys took up most of my childhood.
Fast forward few years ahead, I am in my first year of Mechatronics engineering bachelors program. We are taught C++ as part of our common curriculum for all specializations. Being a guy who loves logic and mathematics, I instantly fell in love with it. But you can’t make a life choice of pursuing programming a month after getting introduced to it. Especially not after the amount of time you spent since your childhood till now, for engineering. Fast forward one year again. We now have ‘Programming with Java’ as a course. That makes it two programming subjects in a total of approximately 40 engineering subjects throughout the course of the degree. Ignore it. Continue with engineering.
Final year of engineering, my classmate with this HUGE passion for what I kept ignoring introduces me to Android Programming. Tried it, loved it. But four years into engineering, it’s too late to back out now.
Completed engineering, got the degree. I still want to continue learning something new. Don’t want to look for a job. Have the family business to fall back on. Dad can support further education. I decide to go for MBA in marketing. MBA after engineering not because I am an Indian (stereotype alert), but because I have trouble speaking to new people or even in front of a gathering filled with people I know. I knew doing marketing, where that is exactly what is expected of you – open up, interact with people, communicate your ideas effectively, will help me with my socializing issues. Nice logic. I know.
And catching up on my mid-engineering love, I decided to learn Android programming AND game programming by myself in my spare time, which I have lots of, owing to the fact that the MBA classes are all in the evening.
Although I started out with the wrong reasons, I absolutely love that I decided to do this and would love to work as a marketing strategist.
AND THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT THIS WHOLE POST IS ABOUT.
I love engineering, programming and marketing. Asking me what I love the most out of these is like asking “Which one of your parents do you like the most?”. I would love to be working in any one of these fields or all if possible.
So, am I confused? Do I not know what I want? Do I need more time? These were the questions running through my head, and questions I was asked during interviews when I decided to look for a job.
The answer lies in one word that I discovered later: Multipotentialite.
This word is best defined by Tamara Fisher in her article titled ‘Multipotentiality’:
Multipotentiality is the state of having many exceptional talents, any one or more of which could make for a great career for that person. Gifted children often (though of course not always) have multipotentiality. Their advanced intellectual abilities and their intense curiosity make them prime candidates for excelling in multiple areas. This can be both a blessing and a curse. On the bright side, they have many realistic options for future careers. But on the downside, some of them will struggle mightily trying to decide which choice to make. Particularly in the last couple years of high school and the first couple years of college, this monumentous decision with so many great possible outcomes can be a source of debilitating stress. The choice is “exhausting and stressful,” as one of my students said this year.
I am not saying I am a gifted child or have advanced intellectual abilities like Tamara Fisher mentions in her article. All I am saying is that I realized it is okay to love multiple subjects or fields. It is okay to want to make your career in more than one field. It is okay to be confused. Keep working on your interests. Don’t lose hope. It takes time and a lot of effort and energy to be up to date with all your interests. But eventually, you will get what you want.
Take this coming from a guy who has an engineering degree, is currently pursuing MBA in marketing and just landed an internship as a QA intern at a major organization that develops video games. (That means, hopefully a career in game-programming/development.)
P.S. The cover image is a collection of photographs I took during my teens, when I had an interest in photography.