As a startup founder, a question we are frequently asked, and, therefore, must be comfortable answering is, “What’s your why?” I have lost track how many times I have been asked this, but it’s always been nice to answer. Not because I like talking about myself or hearing my voice, but because it brings good memories to mind.
Your why is part of your superpower and it’s crucial for understanding what makes you, you.
The medium version of this is I come from an immigrant family and became a first-gen college student. So, I grew up in a household that encouraged you to study so you could become the family’s first doctor, lawyer, or engineer. It is not hard to imagine that I then put my head down in the books and studied hard, became an athlete, and did 1,000+ hours of community service.
I was fortunate enough to get accepted into a medical apprenticeship program hosted at Harvard University before going to college. As you could image, my parents were ecstatic! They were going to have a doctor in the family. However, when it came to college applications, I scratched all my personal statements that were medical related two days before they were due, rewrote them, and applied as an environmental science student.
I just completed my Eagle Scout project to reopen a wildlife corridor in an estuarine research preserve and wanted to do something about the California drought (yes, CA droughts have always been bad for as long as I could remember too). My experience from the apprenticeship, volunteering, and Eagle project helped me realize that there were countless ways to be part and add value to the communities around us. Not just by becoming a doctor.
So I went to UC Davis, an excellent school, known to be one of the best environmental science colleges in the nation. Only, I to graduate in finance. Funny how that works right?
However, I had a very important reflection point during my college years. If you know me, I am a thinker and much as a lover who loves to wonder how the world works around him.
I asked myself how on earth does someone who loves medicine, the environment, and finance make me, me? Because at no point in time did I ever feel like I was wasting my time. This is where I discovered my north star, and it has acted as my compass ever since. No fork in the road decision has been hard to choose since.
I hope to become someone that can make decisions of long-lasting impact, helping as many people as possible.
This does not come with a job title, but no fork in the road decision has ever been hard to choose between since finding my why. If you could be the difference to the people around you, what you do?
For me, I choose to put my 100% effort into helping others more easily navigate the question, “What do you want to do in the future?” An easy to ask, yet hard to answer question that we all come across as young kids, high schoolers, college students, new grads, working professionals, career pivoters – the list goes one!
I can already imagine a world where we face this hard question with the same fun, curiosity we first embraced it as little kids with boundless imaginative possibilities.
Future Gen is a little over a year into this journey, but it has been something I learned to realize is an adventure I have been living for quite some time. Sorry Mom and Dad. I am grateful to have both yours and our family’s continued support.
I invite you all to join us on this journey as we reimagine career exploration for all. Today, we start with Gen Z high schoolers.