This is…just really bad. Tongue-tied ass-kissing. I don’t remember what I was asked to write about, but it ends up being a wordy rationalization for why I’m applying to an IT program when I was a math major. The truth is my math grades sucked major orangutan johnson.
At this point in my life, I spend a lot of time looking at people whom I admire and seeing how they have constructed their professional lives, with the hope of reverse-engineering at least part of what I find in them worth emulating. Since the third grade, I have seen mathematicians (especially number theorists) as existing on a plane higher than those who do not know their art. Like everyone else, I wanted to go beyond making a difference, into the realm of placing my hands on the bedrock of our reality. When I got to college and starting talking with actual mathematicians (not idealized ones in my mind), I was sure that my life lay in the same directions as Professors Fred Diamond and Alan Mayer. Pure, theoretical mathematics seemed to be where my heart needed to go.
As it turns out, my heart and my strengths each pursue slightly divergent vectors of intent. Theoretical algebra, the starting point of contemporary number theory, does not appear to feel at home in my mind or my hands. Fortunately, as I was discovering this distasteful fact, I came across the works of Alan Turing, Stephen Wolfram and Edward Fredkin, great mathematicians who saw the advent of computing machines as a way to gain insight into those realms of nature where mathematics holds sway, that is to say, everywhere. I saw that the intersection of computers and mathematics are reshaping the physicist’s and the mathematician’s picture of the world.
I see now that in order to get my wish and truly see the cogs of the universal clock, I need to make the natural move from mathematics (where my dreams led me) to informatics (where my abilities led me). Once I have a graduate-level understanding of information technology, I can apply my knowledge to the computational theorist’s model of the world and further the understanding of the digital computer paradigm.
I have spent most of my life surrounded by intellectuals and academics, and I find that my imagination and curiosity are best able to flex in such a setting. A job at a university where I could dialog with colleagues with similar interests would be the very definition of ideal. I want to work in an environment where the people are willing to see deep thought as an end in itself.
I have heard the term “think tank” used to describe a private company of professional thinkers who contract out their knowledge and experience. (This has always sounded like a brilliant idea to me because only in such a setting can great minds become rich, and it seems that insight currently has far too little impact on the distribution of wealth.) Computer modeling is a resource that every company needs, and such a situation would still surround me with professional thinkers, which is what I hope to become.
These career aspirations have already required me to network with many professors and researchers. From these acquaintances I have gained an understanding of what the industry is like currently so that I might make wise academic choices. What I’ve learned is that one must walk the line between a well-rounded well of knowledge about one’s subject as a whole and the specialized learning necessary to contribute meaningfully to a specific subfield. This distinction has come home to me only after months of contradictory advice from academic professionals in many fields, but I see now that it provides the basis for higher-level education. In my experiences with academic research, I see that one must make a name for oneself as early as possible by finding a mentor or at least an expert who can demonstrate how the field operates at the personal level. My dreams of a career all seem to have in common the necessity for being prepared intellectually for the challenges that are inherent in any field of human understanding.