The book: It’s easy to get hooked on a particular field of science or engineering. It’s not so easy to know what to do about it.

In Find Your Path (MIT Press), Daniel Goodman ’82 presents the stories of 36 scientists and engineers who have found success in a wide array of jobs in the fields of business, academia, and public service. Most of the personal essays are remarkably candid, detailing the struggles, pressures, successes, failures, and moments of opportunity that led them to their current position.

Through honest stories the work and life of people in STEM fields, Find Your Path aims to be an encouragement and inspiration for students and others who are uncertain about the direction their career will take.

The author: Daniel Goodman ’82 is director of Advanced Technology at ASM-NEXX, a Massachusetts-based company that produces semiconductor capital equipment, and a director of the Fannie and John Hertz Foundation, which provides graduate fellowships in applied science.

Opening lines: Scientists and engineers can find challenging, financially successful, and intellectually satisfying careers in a range of academic, business, and government settings. Of these possibilities, the most familiar to students is probably the academic environment. Students spend years studying with professors at colleges and universities and so have some understanding of what an academic career might be like. They may be less familiar with the range of career possibilities in industry or government service.

This book was originally conceived to provide career guidance to students considering careers in these three settings. However, as the project progressed, I realized that through their first-person stories our role-model scientists and engineers are actually providing valuable life guidance for readers at any stage in their career.

An example of life guidance is how to create a career that achieves balance between family life and work. Another example is how best to find a mentor or career champion. Many of the women in this book have experienced gender discrimination at some point in their careers. In their chapters, they describe their thoughts, feelings, and reactions to this discrimination. The choices they made provide excellent examples of life guidance. Some individuals explain their process of incorporating strongly held values into their training or workplace. Our minority subjects have faced a range of challenges, whether due to growing up in an underserved community or to experiences racial bias or to being a pioneer at their school or workplace.

The personal and professional choices our subjects have made flow from the environment in which they grew up, including the direction and encouragement by parents and teachers as well as from their innate personality, talents, and interests. Although their challenges vary from subject to subject, one commonality is the love these role models have for scientific discovery and their desire to use science and technology to understand and improve the world.

Reviews: “Throughout life, important people and choices will shape your career more than raw academic aptitude. As described in these 36 different and wonderful life stories, a wealth of career opportunities awaits those who are able to understand this important life lesson.” -Woodward Yang, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Harvard University and Founding Faculty Director of the Harvard Master in Design Engineering Program