2.23.2011

Choosing between Career Paths

I love my job as an academic.  However, this morning I realized that I have been conflicted on how to spend my time during breaks (i.e. winter break, spring break, and summers).  There are two possible ways to focus my attention, each leading to two rewarding career paths, as either the philosopher-writer or the consultant-business owner.  I'm afraid that if I try to do both, I'll fail at both because these are part time emphasizes.  To do them well, I need to focus all my time and effort on one to maximize the return on my investment.

With the philosopher-writer career, my specialization in Objectivism could be maximized so that I could write research articles applying the philosophic principles to information systems.  There are very, very few professors in information systems with this specialization, so I would have wide opportunities for contributions.  I have re-considered applying to the Objectivist Academic Center as a means of improving my core understanding of Objectivism and improve my skills as a writer.  As I progress in my career, I would like to write several books, both textbooks and popular press books, with my particular interest in information systems history and the conceptual approach to education.  

In the other career track, I would focus on developing a deep understanding of application of concepts, specifically in Internet technologies, cloud computing, and Internet marketing.  My research would focus more on human computer interaction with Internet technologies.  I would spend more time learning about various development frameworks, project management concepts, and analysis and design practices.  Consulting engagements could flow from these skills.  As my career progresses, I would start some small businesses to capitalize on industry needs and supplement my financial plan.

Up until now, I have been explicitly leaning towards the former path, but realized that the latter path kept creeping into my to-do list.  So here I explicitly acknowledge my dual interests.  Both career paths have equal interest at this point.  Both have good research opportunities and continuing cash flows.  Both would challenge me in new and exciting ways.  Both fit within my central purpose in life.  But my focus must ultimately rest with one or the other.  Which to choose?  I don't know, but I may be talking with a number of people in the future to help me make my decision.

8 comments:

  1. Sounds like big fish, small sea VS small fish, big sea.

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  2. Not sure I look at it that way, but I see your point. I try to see myself as just a fish that does his best every time.

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  3. A fish can't do anything but swim in a brook. He can't write his name or read a book.

    Anyways, I was just saying that if you take the Objectivist Professor route, you won't have much "competition" so to speak. If you go the consulting route, you will probably have considerable competition.

    I like competition, but I also like being different enough so that I can find a niche to be good in.

    I am wording it badly but I'm sure you know what I mean.

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  4. I think you're different enough in your concepts that you could carve out a very nice niche for yourself in applying yourself to business.

    And then when you're 50, say, and everyone knows you as this smart-guy who revolutinised such-and-such and has a reputation for his work in so-and-so, some good school may hire you as a part-time professor and pay you for the time off to write books and articles about all you've learned and done and the principles behind it.

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  5. Thanks Rory. You've sparked some excellent thoughts.

    I believe that some of the motivation behind my desire to consult stems from only working 5 or so years in industry and the belief that I have not fully demonstrated my creative potential to my own satisfaction. I also realize that more industry experience will help me pull from more depth and breadth of examples when writing. Perhaps I should focus on consulting/business in the near term and save the writing till later. It does make me ponder...

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