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3 Reasons to Work in Education

I’m often asked why I chose to work in the education sector. For many, it seems like a huge – even intractable – industry and not one that might hold the attention of someone used to Tech.  For me, there are three reasons that draw me to the space:

Education is – in my humble opinion – the most fundamental sector of a well-functioning society.  If you believe – as I do – that stable societies afford every person the opportunity to succeed, then you must also believe that in a modern, knowledge-based economy education is the key to unlocking that opportunity.  Viewed through this lens, other sectors seem far less important.

There are real, addressable problems.  Over the last few years, the primary issue that your average tech startup deals with is getting people to care about the problem they are trying to solve.  Why?  Because techies – like myself – are starting to hit the margins of problems to solve in the “traditional” tech sector.  Compare this to Education where – at the macro level – you have science and math competency falling and – at the micro level – you have parents nearly bankrupting themselves  to get their children through school.

Education will be THE growth sector of this century.  If you think I’m crazy consider this: Over the last two decades hundreds of millions of people in Asia, South America, and Africa have started the climb out of poverty.  As they move away from a subsistence-based existence and have a little extra money to spend, where do you think it’s going to go?  Parents will invest everything they have into securing opportunity for their children.

I am incredibly excited by the opportunities that lie ahead in education.  I hope that more will join me.

Two Types of Risk

This is my first post in a LONG time. I”m starting to see the light at the end of the school tunnel and hope that this is not the last post for a long time

I’ve been thinking about risk recently. Not the board game (although that is awesome), but the kind that people take when they do something new or uncertain.

Being in business school has made me question what risk really is. There are many people in business school who plan on entering the financial sector – something now nearly synonymous with risk. Yet, at the same time I find that many business students make highly risk averse career choices. How to reconcile this difference? How can someone enter a massively risky industry, yet at the same time be making a risk averse choice?

It strikes me that there are really two types of risk and – at least to my knowledge – the English language has only one word to capture these two very different ideas. The key difference is agency. Risk without agency – which I will henceforth call Type I Risk – is really just gambling. One has no influence on the outcome and gets a thrill by throwing caution to the wind. Risk with agency – I’ll call Type II Risk – is really vastly different. Type II Risk is a willingness to try something new while remaining in control of the ultimate outcome.

For example, I have a near complete aversion to Type I Risk. I get no enjoyment from gambling and I will never, ever jump out of an airplane. On the other hand, I’m relatively comfortable working on a startup after school even though it means I will leave business school in a significantly less secure financial position that I had when I entered.

Obviously every person has their own risk profile and I’m not attaching value to one or another type of risk. However, realizing that there is this gap has really helped me to better understand myself and communicate with others about the future.

Business School – First Semester Impressions

Since Sarah and I returned from India, my blog has sadly been neglected. There is a reason for that – I’ve spent way too much time on school work and not enough time reflecting. I have a few quiet moments now and I figured that I would record some thoughts on business school so far – what I like and what I wish were better.

In my first semester back at school I am taking “the core”. This set of 5 classes is a requirement for all first semester business students and is comprised of accounting, econ, communications, statistics (mixed with some optimization and decision analysis), and organizational studies. Unfortunately, so far, I’ve found most of my classes to be lackluster. Since I took a lot of math and econ in undergrad, most of the topics are review for me. While there is certainly a lot of work to do for classes, I don’t yet feel like I am learning a lot of new material. I remain optimistic that I will be able to choose classes next semester that are more interesting.

Extracurricular life in business school is really where most of the interesting things happen. Despite a healthy amount of title inflation, many of the clubs have significant responsibility in organizing and running some of the most important and well known events at the institute. I’ve gotten involved with the MIT Entrepreneurship Review and am really enjoying the experience.

Everyone always says business school is about the networking. I will grudgingly accept this; however, I’d like to qualify. I, personally, don’t like the word networking. To me, it connotes a fundamentally self-centered activity. For me, business school is about meeting interesting and inspiring people from whom I have and will continue to learn a lot. When it is at its best, business school changes your outlook on what is possible to do in the world. Although it can be frustrating at times, it is this undeniable fact that keeps me excited for next 1.5 years.

Pictures from India!

We’ve posted a few pictures from our trip on Picasa:

These are only about 200 of the 1,900 we took, but they at least hit the highlights of the trip. We’re excited that there seem to be a few pretty good ones, which we look forward to framing and putting up at home. However, looking through all our photos, we definitely feel like they don’t really capture the full experience of being in India. I guess it’s true for any vacation you take, but so much of our experience was shaped by the sights, sounds, and smells hitting our senses from moment to moment. Our pictures show the destinations we reached, but the process of getting to each destination and our day-to-day experiences were such a huge part of our trip.

We found a couple of videos on YouTube that other travelers have posted of the streets in India, which give somewhat of a better idea of what it’s like to travel through the country (or at least just walk down the street in Delhi).