I’m a millennial. The generation Forbes magazine has given attributes such as “stronger-than-average sense of social justice, greater incredulity when it comes to facts and information, and better tech-based skillsets”. We are the “purpose” and “born-digital” generation.
It was roughly one year ago that I decided to change jobs. From an outside perspective, I was already in a pretty good place career-wise. I had a fixed contract and a very good position at a very dynamic, fast-growing and design-immersed company in Mexico, learning about different departments aside from my own – design and marketing – and surrounded by most of my family and life-long friends. It was not bad. Except for one thing: I was restless.
The vague idea of looking for something different, got incubated and tangled up in my head and wouldn’t leave me alone. It was annoying. But days passed by and the thoughts started little by little to untangle. And suddenly it hit me. “I want to work abroad” I finally said to my closest friend and colleague. She froze, stood silent for maybe 10 seconds and then she said a quote from one of girls’ most beloved movies, Legally Blonde: “Can’t you just take a Percocet?”. I had her blessing.
It started with the AIESEC organization, which I learned from a Spanish friend of mine. I knew it was a risk to leave my stable job to become an intern, but still I decided to go for it. The best offer that caught my eye was in Belgium and it had almost 4,000 hits and as impossible as it seemed at the time, I applied. That’s how my journey at Nokia Bell Labs as an intern began.
To be honest, I didn’t realize at the beginning how great of a deal and what an amazing opportunity it meant. Some of the biggest technological inventions over this and the past century have been made by Bell Labs people. Things that have radically improved our daily lives and have disrupted the way we live and communicate with each other, such as the CCD Cameras – which is the basis of the selfie, I mean, cellphone camera – the transistor, which is the basis for every digital processor – wireless communications, solar cells, Unix, C++ and lasers, just to name a few. Owners of Nobel Prizes, Oscars and Emmys have inhabited the corridors. History has been made here, and now I’m part of it.
I get to be immersed inside a world of multi-cultural, creative, down-to-earth, friendly and incredibly smart engineers and listen to their remarkable, disruptive ideas in order to translate them into clear visual concepts for other people. I’ve met people from all over the world and built true friendships.
My team is formed by friendly, dynamic and clever people who understand each other and live the meaning of “complicity”. I’ve assisted some state-of-the-art projects and learned a great deal from them. From working with a very talented fashion-tech designer who can make her garments light up with her mind – literally – to collaborate with the Virtual and Augmented Reality team and transforming me into an AR avatar. I’ve seen how the digerati’s minds work when trying to solve some of the most complex and complicated engineering problems in order to break the barriers between humans and technology and re-invent communication. People are continuously learning different things, perfecting their skills, and going to high-tech conferences and events abroad.
There are always all sorts of activities and events going on which aim to have fun while developing people’s skills to increase knowledge – a popular attribute since the vast majority of people here are curious enough to pursue knowledge deeply. For the “Bob the Builder” engineer type, there’s a special room called “The Garage” where engineers are challenged to build from an in-house-made 3D printer and scanner, to a DIY home automation and a self-balancing robot. Within the Bell Labs floor there’s my favorite room where I can take a break from reality and fight futuristic-evil robots or cowboy-zombies by just putting the headsets on. But my favorite one so far was when we took a trip to the Netherlands to visit a VR center and practice our bow and arrow skills. It was an “out of this world” team building experience.
I’m a millennial. For me, as one of many of my generation, making an impact and finding meaning in what I do is vital. To work with a flexible company with sense of responsibility and who try to solve some of the greatest human needs challenges – while fighting a futuristic robot rebellion – is where I find purpose.