Blurring the Lines Between Work and Play

Pulin Sangvhi, executive director of Career Services for Princeton University, stands at the podium to deliver his Career and Life Vision presentation to a packed room inside the Princeton Club of New York.

He begins by distinguishing the terms jobs and careers, noting how the former entails a pursuit focused on putting food on the table while the latter looks beyond to following a fulfilling lifelong path to be followed. He notes how another term should be included within this group: Callings. He describes how one’s course should be guided by this last one as it means “work that finds the perfect intersection between what you’re most passionate about and the situations that will bring out the best in you in a way where the dividing lines between work and the rest of your life become happily blurred.”

Sangvhi delves into his backstory by recounting how he earned a degree in economics from Yale and a master’s degree in business from Stanford while concurrently working in the finance sector for Morgan Stanley and McKinsey & Company. He explains how the current generation faces a diverse and fragmented landscape of opportunity. A landscape wherein the challenge lies not in finding a job, but finding the correct path that aligns with one’s personal brand. He redefines career management as “the ability to understand yourself and your own definition of a happy meaningful life, and then choosing a portfolio of personal, professional, and extracurricular pursuits to support that vision.”

He stresses the importance of finding something they are most passionate about and then incorporating that into a profession. He urges students not to place so much emphasis on money, citing recent Nobel Laureate Angus Deaton’s study conducted in 2010 which showed that the correlation between money and happiness becomes negligible past the $70,000 income level.

Addressing the fears that come with risk and failure, he explains how career paths aren’t linear. They’re convoluted, winding paths marked with a succession of challenges followed by triumphs. He dismisses the idea of jobs simply being rungs on a ladder to be climbed by saying that they should instead be seen as platforms to better understand oneself. He explains how this sense of self-awareness understood only by succeeding and even failing in different disciplines is vital to future decision-making.

He encourages the attendees to define their own identity and establish a personal brand, to build for themselves a comprehensive network of advisors and supporters, and to dare to envision their future through the lens of a seemingly audacious goal that they are truly passionate about.

“You have extraordinary freedom. Live life doing what you love. Be willing to take a leap of faith believing that it will work out for you. Find your inner greatness and pursue it.”

With an engaged audience of intelligent and ambitious young women before him, he concludes with a final question for them: “What are you going to do with your freedom?