While I will still be in Shanghai for the rest of the month, my internship at ViewFin will be ending this week. With this in mind, it seemed right to take this time to reflect on where I’ve been, and where I hope to go next.
I’ve learned a lot this summer; about people, about China, about programming, and about myself. One thing I learned is that sometimes I wish I had found my way to university sooner, so that I would have had time to become a lawyer or a philosophy professor instead of a programmer!
Programming is good; it’s genuinely interesting to me in both theory and practice, and I think I will be able to find meaningful ways to apply my skills. It will provide decent income, and hopefully can provide a decent work-life balance as well (more on that later). If I’m being honest though, I think sometimes I take noticeably greater joy in analyzing the implications of laws or social circumstances, or discussing the reasoning behind why somebody (especially myself) has belief X or holds on to perspective Y!
Two things that I’ve learned are that a good work-life balance is essential, and family really is the root of everything in life; these things are “true” for me. I’ve realized them before, but they are finally absorbing in a way that I can start to shape my life around what is important to me. As a non-traditional student (first generation, and also I didn’t begin university until age 26 – as I write this, I am approaching both my senior undergrad year, and age 31) there are a lot more things to consider when planning for my future, as compared to peers who have taken a more traditional route! But still, despite all the many things to consider and worry about, these two things stick at the top of my head; family (present and future), and finding the balance between “working just to live” and “living just to work”.
The more work I do in my area (data science), the more I am finding that I am genuinely invested in it. With this in mind, I will continue pursuing graduate schooling, and after my experience this summer I will be looking at Chinese universities (especially here in Shanghai) as well as American ones. Apparently they often have competitive aid/scholarship packages available here to attract international students 😉
Regardless of where I study, after graduation I will be looking first to public sector and non-profit institutions with which I can begin a meaningful career – as opposed to the tech industry, where I’ve found that it can be quite difficult to find meaningful work or a decent work life balance (easy to get lost and let possibly unfulfilling years go by staring at a screen, when you’re working 12+ hours a day, 5-6 days a week as a software developer). If there aren’t good enough options in these areas for me to be able to raise a family in the near future, then I will look towards private sector companies and try to find ones that are doing some sort of tangible “good” in society.
The last point is important, though; it’s getting to the period of my life where I’m not only willing, but also ready and able to settle down and start a family of my own (in all but finances, anyways). Instead of being a lawyer or something, I think it will be more than enough for me to find a partner that I can talk about philosophy, society, politics, even the meaning of life with. Surprisingly, this is something else that seems more possible than ever before as a result of having made this journey to Shanghai… Which would lead to a whole ‘nother blog post… On a totally different site, lol… Let’s just say that life is unpredictable, but that unexpected blessings can be found 🙂
Ultimately, if one doesn’t worry about changing the world, and instead tries to do meaningful good in the world around them and to the people they meet, it is already enough. If that leads to changing the world, then GREAT! Go for it! If not… Your world, and the worlds of the people closest to you, will still be changed forever either way as time goes on – so try to be present and let them change for the better.
Thanks again to all that have helped make this journey possible, and have helped to lead me here.