Grace and I recently spent our vacation in Singapore over her Spring Break. From the moment that Grace’s parents picked us up at the airport to when they brought us back a week later, our trip was filled with what I’ve now come to expect from Singapore: gatherings with friends and family, often over good and cheap food, various cheap public transit options to get between them, and the continual pursuit of air conditioning to avoid the year-round heat and humidity.
While the flights were super long and the trip felt short, we really appreciated being able to spend that time with friends and family. Even though we didn’t get to see everyone we wanted to see, it was still very refreshing to catch up and have fun together with those that we could.
What does it take to live a meaningful life? When everything is said and done, what will truly have mattered? Is it the accomplishments we achieved, the recognition we received, the legacy we left behind? Or is there something inherently meaningful in the lives we lead, the experiences we cherish, the people we love?
When I first heard about the concept of a Career Fair in my freshman year at Caltech, I half-joked to my friends, “I don’t want a career!” I came to college to learn math and science, and was quite honestly disgusted with classmates who would choose their course loads, student groups, or volunteer opportunities for the sole purpose of looking good on a resume.
This didn’t mean that I resisted growing up or planning ahead. I suspected I would want to go to graduate school, so I spent my first two summers doing research in my two favorite fields: math and chemistry. After all, this looked good on a grad school application for precisely the right reason: Experience doing research would prove to both myself and graduate admissions committees that I would thrive there.
During the rest of the year, I tried to learn all the things. I took the more difficult options for physics and biology requirements in addition to numerous advanced math and chemistry classes as a freshman and sophomore. I even sat in on the first few weeks of the main major-specific classes for astronomy and biology my sophomore year before the workload of organic chemistry lab caught up to me.
Last fall, I participated in a job-seeking fellowship called Insight Data Science. The official program lasts for seven very full weeks, but the job-seeking process continues afterwards for anywhere between a few weeks and a few months.
I was one of the lucky ones to get a job in the month following the program. So based on that fact alone, you might imagine that this will be a glowing review of the program’s success.
I started my 2019 blog reboot last week with retrospective reflections on my life in 2018, and as is common this time of year, I’d like to follow it up with my goals for 2019. In compiling this list, however, I found a unifying thread between the goals: In every case, I hope to replace a mindset focused on maximizing quantity with one focused on maintaining quality.