I had a very helpful conversation with my mom about career. It was after all my law firm interview rejections came in, and I was feeling a bit low. She called to check in on the process. She then mentioned how surprised she was that I had pursued these firm jobs, as she had expected that I would work for a nonprofit or the government.
She said “One reason that you might have been pursuing those jobs was because you felt a need to be more financially successful than your immigrant parents. We came to this country with very little and couldn’t speak the language perfectly, yet were able to get good jobs. You may think that if you don’t make as much money as us, you have failed in some way. But that’s not it. Success is measured by freedom of opportunity. We stayed in this country not so you would have the opportunity to be rich, but so you would have the opportunity to pursue what you want to do.”
I had not considered the impact of my immigrant heritage on my career choices. I am grateful to have parents (my dad talked to me about these things too) that are thoughtful and able to articulate these points well. I don’t think it was a conscious factor, but it may well have played a subtle role.