My last year of sunsets at Illinois.

Xander’s College Life: Year 4

Chapter 4 – Next steps: The biggest decision of my life (so far…)

Location/Family, Career/Growth potential, Work/Life…

I’m facing quite possibly the most significant and most difficult decision of my life up to this point; I’ve been putting it off for far too long, and now, finally, I’m at the end of the road. Still, I’m no better off than when I first sat down with my options. I am, of course, talking about career paths after graduation, which is coming up freakishly fast already…

I really don’t know who to turn to anymore for thoughts or advice… I’ve talked to so many people and looked at the choices from every conceivable angle. Everyone has been very helpful, and I thank whoever I’ve talked to for being insistent, yet non-interfering. For the first time since college apps oh-so-long ago, I almost wish someone would make this decision for me; someone, that could look beyond all the factors that I know, and someone who I could trust to understand me and my yet-to-be determined path better than I understand myself. (Hmm… I guess there is Someone I haven’t asked yet…)

Yet of course, no matter what, the actionable decision rests upon me… so, I’d better get things sorted out. I’ll also avoid being vague, cuz… I need to look at this realistically. BTW, I *should* be doing my ECE 398 homework for this one class right now, but… basically, Accenture wants to know by tomorrow if I’ll be joining them next year, so… that forces my hand to evaluate now… anyway, quick summary of choices:

To give some background… I am extremely happy to have gotten my internship for the past summer. There was a period that I thought I was gonna all fall apart, but taking that as a wakeup call, I clawed myself back into a favorable position. In short, I got the offer, and I’m happy with what it has. If I didn’t come into my senior
year with it in hand, I would be far, far more stressed out than I am now. It’s a great offer and a great opportunity—it’s also really far away, which is both good and bad. The culture is very… “chill” I guess. You can do anything you want, as long as you get your work done. Go to work in a suit, go in t-shirt and shorts, it’s up to you! It’s also a huge company with so many teams; 78,000 employees, half of which are in Redmond, and Seattle ain’t half bad! Actually, if it wasn’t for the regional location; i.e., if MS was in Chicago, I don’t think there’d be much contest. But it’s not. It’s a stone throw away from the Pacific, and a good 2,000 miles away from home. Plus there is an excess of CS people, and you know what I think of CS people… Meh. (j/k… sort of)

This was a continuation from interview season last semester, and in all honesty, if it wasn’t for my experiences over this past summer which I talked extensively about, I don’t think getting this would have been as simple. It’s also my main complication. I’d be doing a lot of travelling; consultants work client-side a lot, and often this means lots of flying. Is this good? Travelling the country, getting exposure to a variety of other companies and their culture doesn’t sound half bad! It would suck to be stuck in… Iowa, but there’re things to learn in Iowa, I’m sure. Sure it’s not as “prestigious” as Deloitte or McKinsey, but hey… it’s not *half* bad. The work atmosphere was more “professional”, business casual seems to be the bare minimum; suits and ties commonplace. Sure, it’s comparatively a lotta get up, dress up, (and probably suck up)—but that’s all part of the fun! The workplace also seems a lot more diverse; not so many CS—one of my interviewers was actually an accounting major, the other was a computer engineer. It also felt a lot smaller; the Chicago office had about… 2-4 thousand people? Oh yes, and being in downtown Chicago, it has probably, the best location of all three, but I also have the least idea about what kind of work I’d be doing… and I guess that matters, right? (minor sarcasm) I should probably make some kind of office visit, just so I have a
better idea.

Now, it’s true—I’m still interviewing for these positions, so I can’t really consider them “options”, but thinking worst case scenario (or best case), I may need to evaluate them too. The job balance is probably the best, the corporate culture probably an in-between Accenture and Microsoft; professional, but still engineering solutions focused (which means, whatever it takes to get your job done). Both of these options are 2-year rotational programs, which means change in team, change in location every six months. If you’re like me, and want to know what’s out there—this is a good thing! GE also has the best name out of the three, which means I can go around proudly with branded wear without feeling like a sell-out. The bad: even though it’s a rotational program, the rotations kinda… suck. The main location is in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Cheeseland. I.e. a shadow of the Chicago metro area. I’m sure it’s a nice place…
but certainly not the most happening place. Still, being development programs, the post-graduation career potential
is certainly very high… I do hope I get the offers.

So… now what? I spent a couple hours discussing it with Rohit and Anubhav—good discussion, but it didn’t let me be any surer as to what I wanted to do. If anything, I’m even more frustrated at the lack of a clear answer. At this point, no matter what decision I make, I feel like I’ll be speculating about what it would have been like, had I taken the other route. And yeah, I’m sure that 5-10 years down the line, I’ll be happy enough to not care; but at this juncture, these are very divergent career paths, and they only get more divergent with time. What to do… what to do. I should make a more ordered chart…

  • pray about it alex!
  • here’s what you do alex, ask for an extension…now!
  • I’d say that you absolutely do not want to work for GE. You want to work for a company where you are a money earner, and not seen as a cost center. No matter how technical or promising it is, at the end of the way you won’t get to do fun stuff at a company where your job is a means to an end, instead of an end itself.

    I’d say do a startup! These days the world is flush w/ VC money, and even if you don’t get rich it’s still fun, a great experience, and an automatic jump to (at least) management level if/when you rejoin the corporate world. If you’re looking for a partner, I have a few ideas that might be fun to submit to Y-combinator

  • Hello Xander,
    You worked hard to make your site so scenic and serene. The music is a nice touch. I see that you need God’s wisdom and guidance in making a hard decision. Now is a good time! I recommend the one true God, Jehovah.
    I like to write articles about God and religion on my site to help people to really get to know God, especially in these troubled times: 14 “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world. It will be a witness to all nations. Then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14) (NIRV) I hope you get a chance to look at them.