Jake Eichengreen // Leadership Thoughts

October 3, 2019

Have you ever walked into the shower with your socks on?

A colleague of mine recently (and reluctantly) shared that he is guilty of such an offense. The way he tells the story he was on autopilot, thinking about something that had happened at work earlier that week. He stepped into the shower eager to clear his head and something didn’t feel quite right. He looked down and…well, his socks were still on. 

We may not all share the experience of showering with socks, but we certainly all know what it feels like to be on autopilot. To be going through the motions without realizing what you’re doing. To get where you’re going without much thought about the route.

Many of the students we work with feel some anxiety about the idea of autopilot from a career perspective. Often, their concerns served as a piece of their motivation to pursue work with the Quad. They feel like testing their ideas and abilities through the projects we facilitate is an important piece of leading their own professional journey. And, honestly, they’re right. 

That’s not to say that cruising on autopilot is a professional death sentence. It’s not. There are many successful professionals who stayed between the ditches and let the road take them where they were going. 

But for those who want to achieve their truly highest potential, whether that be measured in satisfaction, impact, income or something else, testing ideas, learning from experimentation and failure, and making active, informed decisions is a much surer route. Our job is to be sure that motivated students have access to opportunities to experiment, to test their fit in a range of fields and industries, and to produce work that is indicative of what they’re capable of.

We put students in the drivers’ seat, and make sure that they steer as actively and ably as they can. With applications for the next semester approaching quickly, now more than ever is the time for the “doers” to consider what they can do with us next year.