I never met Steve Jobs in person, but I make a living using his products and have admired him as far back as I can remember. When I was in high school, I wrote to him (he was still at NeXT at the time) for career advice, figuring there’s no way I’d ever see a response. I got one. I’ve posted this before, but after today I think it’s worth sharing again.
My note (excuse the high school-level writing) sent on 6/12/94:
Dear Mr. Jobs,
I am very impressed by your life. I am a 16 year old male and I’m typing this letter on a Mac. I have a question for you. I am positive that I want to go into a career in the computer field. I love to draw, I can read music, I like fooling around with stuff, I like e-mail and I can program in BASIC and I’m trying to learn some other languages. What kind of career involves any of those things? How does one break into the industry these days? What kinds of classes should I take? I know these are a lot of questions, but I would greatly appreciate it if you could mail me back.
Steve’s reply on 6/13/94:
My suggestion is to go to a great college or university, at least for a year or two. Don’t limit your study to just computer science, but rather explore everything that catches your heart. This will serve you well later in your life.
I have always remembered a phrase I read when I was your age: stay hungry, stay foolish.
I believe it more now than ever.
R.I.P. Steve, from an Apple-product-loving liberal arts graduate that is both hungry and foolish.
Of the countless teachers and professors I had over the years, a small handful stick out in my mind as real influencers over my life and career. Mike Nolan was on this short list.
As my academic advisor, he went out of his way to help me assemble a course schedule that allowed me to remain focused on my major (English) while still dabbling in Art, Journalism (a department which he singlehandedly kept alive) and all sorts of other shenanigans. The fact that he was unassumingly hilarious didn’t hurt either.
Dr. Nolan was extremely interested in where Journalism was going as the digital space grew and grew, and continued to keep in touch with me every few years to see how my career was progressing.
This morning I heard the news of his unexpected death and was absolutely stunned. The world has lost a great guy, and I’m honored to have had him as a teacher.
As the decade draws to a close, I figured I’d recap some notable things that’ve happened to me since January 1, 2000:
- Graduated from college (May 2000)
- Moved to Los Angeles to start a job at News Digital Media (June 2000)
- Got married (July 2000)
- Got laid off in the dotcom fun* (Spring 2001)
- Got a job at FOX Broadcasting Company (Summer 2001)
- Moved to a new apartment (Spring 2002)
- Our first son was born (April 2002)
- Our second son was born (October 2003)
- Left FOX for a job at Yahoo (Summer 2004)
- Left Yahoo for a job at Ning (December 2005)
- Our third son was born (June 2006)
- Became a homeowner (Fall 2006)
- Temporarily avoided seeing Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (December 2009)
On the nerdier side:
- Threw away my 100-foot Ethernet cable in favor of connecting to the Internet wirelessly
- Watched my music and movie collection turn from plastic discs into files on a hard drive
- Stopped getting photos developed
- Stopped watching TV commercials
- Saw my cellphone transform from a voice-only device to a pocket computer that does everything short of granting wishes
Overall, a pretty intense decade.
*How great is it that this article was written by Jayson Blair!?