Answering My Son’s Questions- Part 1: How to Start A Career
Michael Gollin (with help from Max Gollin)
Follow curiosity, find a way to serve others, consider various jobs that fit, research pay, competition, and long-term advancement prospects. List jobs you might like, then choose those that have reasonable prospects for success. You will always do something you like if you do this, instead of choosing a high-paying job at the outset or something you like that doesn’t allow success. Meet people in the area and see if you like them and their values.
Choose options that tend to open doors and lead to various follow-up jobs rather than dead-end jobs. The modern career may look a lot different from mine, which only had one major jump or three. My career went from bio to law, patent law to environmental, and gradually back to IP law.
I chose science because it expands boundaries of knowledge and can improve lives, but can be used for ill effects too, like pollution and war. It has lots of cool equipment and smart people. Law is the alternative to anarchy and hunger. Lawyers serve clients and the law. I help the law promote innovation and help my clients be rewarded for creative work. Smart and creative people are my regular colleagues and clients.
But I write, lecture, teach, and have had many hobbies beyond patent law. If you remain curious, keep learning, find ways to serve that you feel good doing, and maintain a network and support group of like-minded people, you will discover your career or it will discover you.
Editor’s note: this is part of a series of advice letters my dad wrote for me in September 2014 when I asked him for some guidance on the big things in life –Max