I came across an interesting article by Drake Baer on the Fast Company website recently, and as I consider that I’m doing work I really, really love AND getting paid very well for it, it caught my eye immediately.
The article mentions not just ONE but TWO of my favourite books in recent years, so I thought I’d give it a mention. Drake asks:
Here’s an interesting question: Why are the nation’s highest-achieving undergrads flying to finance and consulting?
As Cal Newport observes, the majority of Dartmouth’s five valedictorians are choosing those two sectors, while 36% of an entire Princeton class a year ago took finance gigs and 17% of Harvard grads did the same.
Is this, as David Brooks might say, a brain drain, caused by thinking the only options for elite students are:
- making buckets of money in finance or consulting,
- saving the world at nonprofits,
- for West Coasters, starting a tech company?
While he was researching that book – which you should read if you want to be satisfied and employed for the remainder of your life – he says he kept bumping into this realisation:
“The current generation of college students has a stunted vocabulary when it comes to discussing career aspirations.”
Where has the systemic and systematic curbing come from? Newport contends it’s caused by the soul-crushing college admissions process (one which seems to signal that life is much more linear than it actually is) and the “dulling effect” of guru-peddled follow-your-passion flimflammery.
If you were a debt-saddled grad on the make, which would you choose?
Why Articulation Helps
As we’ve discussed before, humans aren’t very good at understanding (or acting on) things unless they’re clearly described, inscribed, and prescribed – which is why apps need to be massively simple, your nebulous emails don’t get replies, and you just can’t stick to your New Year’s resolutions. In other words, unless we can clearly define our choices to ourselves, we can’t make informed decisions.
Newport puts it well:
“What we need is more career conversations, started much earlier, handled with significantly more subtlety and intelligence than most 19 year-olds, or the career advice industry that caters to them, seem willing to pursue.”
So how do we get more nuanced, subtle, and intelligent about the way we talk about our careers? While this will not be answered in the space of this blog post, Newport has a few suggestions for better questions – and so do we.
Find Work You Love AND Can Get Paid Really Well
1) Cultivating craftsmanship
One of the primary themes of Newport’s So Good is that the life-long pursuit of craft is a key predictor of life-long job satisfaction, and if we take craftsmanship to be mastery, it’s one of the primary intrinsic motivators Daniel Pink names in Drive. We can take this to be a supply-side factor, that is, you find slowly mastering a skill – be it writing or managing – to be a worth life-long pursuit for you.