I had an interesting conversation with my cousin who was graduating college last yr. She said “I want to do ABC with my life but the whole world is rejecting me. The interviewers/ career counselors all say I have to do XYZ instead of ABC. I am confused!”
It reminded me of the advice that I got when I was starting my career.
I joined a boutique M&A firm which mainly covered the software and security sectors. My boss, a former engineer, brought me to all important meetings with our clients (mostly 40-50 year-old, experienced CEOs). I was young and motivated so I learned very fast. However, back in my mind, I couldn’t stop worrying about “AM I TECHNICAL ENOUGH?”. Until I met my mentor.
The conversation with my mentor basically went like this (if shortened in a few sentences)
Me: I studied political science and business, stupid! I wish someone told me to study Computer Science or Engineering instead! I feel insecure at work, Sometimes I feel like.. “oh my god, they will notice that I didn’t study CS, busted!” Mentor: “hold on, hold on, well, my favorite tech investor is Michael Moritz, and he didn’t study Computer Science either, his undergraduate degree is in history. you have no reason to feel insecure about not knowing every details. don’t put a limit yourself. The only one who can hold you back is you. you could, if you set your mind to it, do anything you chose.“
His words really helped me feel confident. Encouraged by my newly gained confidence, I worked harder and ended up loving my job. Now, I don’t thin-slice people. I never tell people they cannot do something simply because ‘they didn’t study xyz, they didn’t go to top schools. I believe that everyone will thrive if they do what they love. All you need is find what you love and set your mind to it.