Follow Your Vision or Your Interest?

It’s been a long time since the very first time when I got the motivation to write something. And that was before my left of IBM. Two weeks from now, I have noticed so many changes has happened to me. I felt that I can breath deeply again, I got fully rested, and able to feel every part of my body. Finally, I decided it is time to sit down and write this.

Two months before graduating from McCombs School of Business with top 6 entrepreneur master degree, I got a chance having a coffee with my mentor as well as favorite professor in the program talking about my career. I was young and new to American business environment, but my mentor is a very famous venture capitalist here in town. So with the vision of becoming an investor like him, I asked “Which industry should I get into as my first job here in USA to eventually become someone like you?” “Product Managers at IT companies.” Luckily, after months of trying, I ended up with an offer as Associate Product Manager at the very next day when I graduated. I was as happy as a clam and ready to start my journey toward my end goal — becoming a venture capitalist. I even can see myself working in IT industry for 5 years with solid product management skills and move into investment industry before eventually become a successful venture capitalist.

Three months training looks really fun to me. I learned so much about how to find problems and how to craft solutions that suites users’ needs. I have anticipated that everything will be just fine as long as I put a lot of work into it. Nope, it did not turn out to be what I expected. Three months into the team after the training is over, no clear guidance for the entry-level professional. I was expected to deliver right away to understand and contribute to the work with developers, know how to report up with polished presentations and proactively drive cross-functional team on product development. After a lot of push back and mental abuse from the manager, I started to dive into the architecture learning and technology learning just like a developer. My point here is not about what is right or wrong with the company but figuring out what I should actually follow to be able to reach my life purpose which is the term that people are using all the time. After non-stop learning for 16 to 18 hrs a day, seven days a week for weeks, I started to question myself: “Do I feel happy? Is this correct?”

I started to see career counselor who gave me 300 questions to answer in order to figure what job fits me the best and what industry that I should enter. It shows that software and hardware are the least two industries that I should go into. But, my vision is to become a venture capitalist, and most of the startups are software companies. If I enter other industries, am I drifting away from my passion? Also, I want to come a product manager in this field, the knowledge level does not require to be that deep as what software engineer should develop. Maybe I would be fine, would I? My friends are seems doing just fine in IT companies even without coding skills. I started to fall back to my old path of looking jobs in tech, and even worse, I started to look for coding bootcamp to attend. “Wait, please take a step back here. Are you truly passionate about IT technologies? If another IT company and Staples offer you jobs at the same time as product manager, which one will you take?” Asked by my counselor. Staples, no doubt. “I don’t think you are that interested in IT. You should do what you are interested in.” But, what about my vision? Am I going to get lost and drifted away from my passion? “Yes, your passion is becoming a venture capitalist. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it has been to be in IT. It could be any industries.” “But most of the ventures are in medical and IT field. Manufacture and fast consuming products usually have much lower profit to attract investors.” I debated. “Well, then you just going to try to become the VC in these lower profit industry then. The general concept of investor is to invest money into something and get bigger return. It could be anything. Don’t limit yourself. Follow what your true interest and it will take you where you want to be eventually.”

You know what, I think my counselor is right. If a cloth does not fit us, we probably not going to wear this kind of cloth anymore. But if a career path does not fit us, why are we fall back to the old vision again and again? Our brain sets the vision, but our body will tell us whether or not it is comfortable. Just like cloth, a suitable job can make us breath and feel free. Even if it looks great, but if it does not fit, it will eventually smother us anyways. Maybe it is time for me to try something new. Something interesting would make me feel free, engaged and happy again. And Stop narrow my vision down by equalling VC to just IT. It can equal to a lot of things.