Thursday, February 25, 2010
Where You Start Is Not Where You End
I've written about my daughter's exploration of colleges and my sense that college fit for her including teaching style, student peers, setting, culture, and extracurricular activities is more important than US News and World Report rankings or the parental ego boost from the college prestige beauty contest.
As an experiment, I asked several of my staff where they went to college.
There was no correlation between their current roles and the prestige ranking of their college. College was a nurturing experience that enabled them to explore their interests, find themselves, and build the skills to succeed in life. Graduate school did correlate a bit. Aiming for a great Master's program (MS, MBA, MPH, MPA) is an enabler to find a good job.
Interestingly, of the folks I work with in Washington, most identify themselves with the institution of their final degree and not their college experience. After a few years in recognizable positions, any mention of even graduate educational institutions fades away.
As I look as my evolving CVs through the years, the pedigree of my 20's is no longer relevant to my trajectory at 50.
The point - where you start is not where you end.
I disagree with those who believe the right kindergarten leads to the right elementary school leads to the right high school leads to the famous college, which immediately produces fame and fortune. From my limited experience of managing 500 people, it's the person and their individual journey that leads to success, not their pedigree.
My own life has been filled with twists, random acts of kindness from others, good karma, and Brownian motion that as led me to my current positions.
My daughter's passions are mathematics, Japanese culture/language, archery, the outdoors, and art. Might she be an environmental engineer working in Japan and studying Kyudo, the mediative archery martial art? Could she be the designer of the next generation of Lego toys? Might she teach English to Japanese elementary school students after college, then work in Japanese government as a liaison to visiting technologists? All are possible - the world is her oyster.
In life thus far, I've been a son, programmer, author, editor, manager, winemaker, physician, technologist, politician, husband, and father. Fate usually reinvents my role every few years and the final chapter of my story has not yet been written.
So, Lara, go write your story. You're at Chapter 1. I look forward to reading the novel of your life as you write it, your way, in the years to come.
Posted by John Halamka at 3:00 AM