Believe it or not, this is 101st post in this blog. Which is the perfect opportunity for some big-picture reflection.
I started my professional career in the military. I loved coming to work every day with a deep sense of purpose, knowing that the work that I do helps save people’s lives. But the bureaucracy and the internal politics drove me away.
So I tried something different: working for a publicly-traded tech company. I loved the complexity and the broad range of challenges that stem from the way a for-profit company operates. But not having any sort of emotional connection with the problem our products were trying to solve, prevented me from bringing all of my energy and focus to work every day. If I’m spending more than a third of my waking hours on something (do the math), it’d better serve some deeper purpose than paying the bills or advancing my career.
I ended up spending a large chunk of a rather expensive 2-year “vacation”, getting an MBA, trying to figure out a career path that’ll enable me to marry the best parts of my two extreme professional experiences. I’ve learned and did a lot of other things during those two years, but having the time to grapple with this challenge is one of the things that I am most grateful for.
Fortunately, I was able to find a small set of for-profit companies that met my “mission-driven” criterion and get a job with one of them. It was also deeply saddening to realize what small percentage of companies actually met that bar. My 5-year tenure with my previous employer was all the real-world validation that I needed to know that I’m on the right path.
When it was time to move on, “mission-driven” was one of the few criteria that I was not willing to compromise on. So I’ve put together a list of mission-driven companies which served as the most powerful focusing lens in my job search. When other colleagues were grappling with the “what’s next?” question, I’ve shared my list with them, and several of them said that they’ve found it useful. One of them even suggested sharing it with a broader audience.
So here it is. My list. It is by no means perfect, and is most certainly biased (towards early-stage tech companies in the Bay Area), and subjective (since I’ve used my own judgement on which companies met the “mission-driven” bar and which didn’t). I hope to keep adding to it, and welcome recommendations and suggestions for companies that should be on the list, but plan to keep tight editorial control.
Hopefully you’ll find it useful, as I did: