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Aaron Yang

High school Mathematics teacher,

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I'm seeking direction for my future after i graduate this May 2012.

I'm an Applied Mathematics Major with a Minor in Economics with some background in pre-med. Originally i was seeking fulfillment in life through money, hoping one day to become an actuary. However, as my college career's coming closer to an end, I've been reconsidering my feelings of fulfillment. After subscribing to TED and RSA the past year, my mind has opened up a lot more. I try my best to engage in thought on a daily basis, thinking constantly about the world and the path its headed.

Among the talks i've enjoyed were about changing paradigms. The inefficiency of the 20th century becomes more and more evident each year. Many of the companies i had planned on applying for would have had me stuck at a desk job, going to meetings, surrounded by the old era corporate system stifling the creative mind.

Although I am eager to jump into this revolution of change, I feel like i am in neither the position nor have the means to exercise my thoughts. As of now, my hopes are to find an intellectually engaging community to better myself and perhaps gain opportunities to find a job where i can be in a stimulated environment at the front-lines (or back-lines) of the 21st century. In short, my question are:

What companies should i seek out that would benefit from my skills, and that i would benefit from them?
How can i be involved with changing the old system to make way for the new generation?
Where in the world would i be able to immerse myself with like-minded thinkers? (country/state/city)

It could be possible that i'm not asking the right questions at the moment, because i myself am not completely sure where i'm headed. Any input, criticism, lecturing, opportunity would be greatly appreciated!

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Closing Statement from Aaron Yang

Thankyou for even responding to my first conversation on TED. I'm thankful for all of you sharing your experiences with me. I understand that the path i'm on is my own and i will do my best to walk it well.

With much appreciation,
Aaron

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    Jan 26 2012: Aaron, no one is ever completely sure where they are headed after completing university. And if someone tells you that they are 100% completely sure where they are headed at age 22, they are either incredibly focused or incredibly naive.

    Life is what happens while you are making other plans. When you leave university, all of the sign posts that guide your life are removed and it is up to you to chart out your course. You can delay taking the helm for a few years in grad school, but eventually you'll have to take the wheel of your own ship and steer off in a given direction. Its initially very scary.

    I wish I could help answer your questions - I think that they are very insightful and reflective. Unfortunately no one can answer these questions but you. You'll have to use trial and error, advice from others, and your own intuition to figure it out. Answers will come with time and experience.
  • Jan 29 2012: I graduate too in July. And I don't know my path after that. I study Microelectronics and Nanotech. That is something but i can't say i'm a top student so i'll probably go towards other direction. I really don't know, but I refuse to worry about it. I'll solve this problem after I graduate. Until then worrying can't help me with nothing. I think about it once in a while, but i like not to try to tightly control everything about my future. I think it's really a stress booster and an energy consumer to try to avoid any risks. So, i'm not going to tell you everything will be be fine, but I will tell you to go with the flow and when the time comes, calculate the best deal for you, and try to get knowledge in different fields. I think the era of specialists will sooner or later be over, and being a genralist can help you adapt to newer fields and have a flexible mind.
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      Jan 29 2012: do you think you could elaborate more on what a generalist is? or give me an example of an occupation that would fit that genre? my friend suggested that i possibly do business consulting so i can help companies run more efficiently. i'm still looking into different possibilities.
      • Jan 29 2012: In my opinion an era of automation will come in the near future and any human can be replaced by technology. Japanese are working at human faces, so you can be sure that after they perfect the faces and make them reflect emotions to all the TV commercials actors and later the stars from Hollywood will be replaced by these.

        What I want to say with generalist is accumulating knowledge in vast domains, so if you need to reorient towards other job it will be easy for you. Not necessarily you have the required knowledge for the new job but you have some basics and a flexible mind. Being a TED member shows you are in the right direction and you are open minded.

        That's for the future. In the next few years you can make something with your degree, but think about how will it serve 40 years from now. We study to get a degree, but that's not the end of it, we'll have to keep learning new things and have the right attitude towards learning. If you ask me, after you finish your studies and get a job, more or less the one you wanted, you start gaining the experience that can put your college knowledge in a context.

        I don't know how explicit i was with that, but i hope it is useful for you. That's really the maximum capacity of expressing myself in English. Good luck!
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    Jan 27 2012: I appreciate the input from all of you. I have been doing research on Ken Robinson's ideas for a revolution in education and found that they have actually formed an RSA open minds school community in Europe. However, i have failed to find any evidence of anything being started in the United States. At this point in time i feel like i would have to be a part of the United States Board of Education to have at least minimal input in the change of the way schools are run today. This could take many grueling bureaucratic years until i can reach any position of authority. Similarly, i was inspired by Jason Fried's lecture about the work efficiency in business settings. I have been trying to find out who is in control of the corporate system and where change would begin in respect to these aspects? Is it at the managerial level or at the level of the CEO? Regardless, i feel helpless at the moment. It seems like the people who can make this change in the way things work are already in a position placed by complacent resistance to change. I would have to go through years of more schooling and corrupt politics to climb my way to those positions, that is if i haven't been corrupted myself by the time i get there. The process towards these changes will be very difficult even if someone in a position of authority decides to revolutionize the system. It's not just the gears that will be completely redesigned, but it will have be to be run by similar minded peoples who also believe in this cause. Teachers and CEOs alike will have to see the values of a new era. I'll continue to research and become better informed, but any sort of feedback would be greatly appreciated!
    • Jan 27 2012: Hi Aaron,
      I know how you feel about some of the corporate work you did. I just walked away from a 10 year career in a high paying, high profile industry that was not interested in change management and creative thinking. I was a pain in my boss' asses because of my allegiance to the worker and making conditions better for them. I finally realized that the corporations I worked at were not interested in change management for their workers and it was no longer my responsibility to get them to care.

      So now I move to empowering the people that work under the systems. I have wanted to coach others for some time. As of now, I am focusing on coaching teens but the concepts work for all ages. A lot of people are talking about and working on the systemic changes that need to happen and I applaud them for it. But that is going to take some time. So my message is, while the systems adjust what can you do to make sure you are getting as much out the current systems you toil under? Also, most of the people I worked with had a burning desire (no, not just reflux from work stress) to pursue something else but felt powerless to start pursuing it. Each and everyone of them had the capacity to use the strengths they had in one area of their life and spread them to all other areas. The problem is we all tend to be blinded to our own opportunities for growth. It takes some devotion and perseverance to start to tap into the true self.

      I'm with you on what you say about the systems. In my experience, systems are not really interested in change from within. If I may tweak an old cliche, "Think Outside the System" if you want to be the visionary you seem to express above.
  • Jan 26 2012: Hi Aaron
    Have you thought about working in the medical field, mental health specificaly. It is changing from a medical model to a recovery model and we are right in the middle of it. You could earn a good income while helping people get their lives back. I work in this field teaching recovery priniples to doctors, residents, med students and patients themselves. I also have schizophrenia myself and haven't had any symptoms for 13 years, proof that you can recover. I once had no hope until people in this field gave me hope and I am forever grateful. Now I work full time, own my own home and car, help support my mother who lives with me and have a lot of friends. I do all the same activities everyone else does and it's all because people in this field believed in me. If you would like to make a difference in peoples lives finish med school and become a psychiatrist. You will make good money and change lives for the better.
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      Jan 26 2012: Hi James,

      Let me just congratulate you on having found something meaningful to do in life that ultimately ended up helping you. Helping others is the noblest way of living ones life.....because in the end, you will be the one benefitting. I truly believe that "There is more happiness in giving than in receiving".

      @Aaron, I applaud your pradigm shift:

      "Originally i was seeking fulfillment in life through money, hoping one day to become an actuary. However, as my college career's coming closer to an end, I've been reconsidering my feelings of fulfillment. After subscribing to TED and RSA the past year, my mind has opened up a lot more. I try my best to engage in thought on a daily basis, thinking constantly about the world and the path its headed."

      I would recommend that you watch the youtube video by Elizabeth Gilbert when IQ2 interviewed her. It lasts 4 minutes.......but in the end, she reveals a gem. When you meditate on her words, you will see that choices are never easy to make.....but ultimately they are your choices. Continue acquiring knowledge, and pray (if you are spiritually inclined) for discernment and insight when choosing your career path. The choices are abundant.

      I wish you well.....and BTW both James and Robin make excellent points Aaron. Their answers are insightful.