Finding Your Passion – The Path to Self-Discovery

I am about to hit my 21st anniversary at Intel. Around here when you mention your tenure and it’s divisible by 7, most people immediately ask, “What are you doing for sabbatical*?” Every 7 years, Intel has you leave the office for two months and go on a sabbatical. They continue to pay your salary like you were at work, even though you’re not working.   Oftentimes, it’s the first time employees actually reflect back on their careers and what they’ve been doing.

Intel wants you to refresh, recharge and rediscover yourself while you are away from the office and disengaged from work. Many people I work with use this opportunity to re-discover their passions and refocus themselves. They come back to work and take on new roles, new challenges or have figured out how to change what they do to better align with their goals. Looking back to when I was thinking about a job after college, I wish I had the foresight to pause and better understand and reflect on where my passions lay and what was going to fuel my passion every day. When all is said and done, we spend an enormous amount of our time at work. Why do work that doesn’t satisfy, doesn’t challenge or fuel you?

Oftentimes we are so bent on getting a job to pay the bills or repay student loans; we put job security ahead of pursuing our passion and playing to our strengths. I remember accepting my first position at Intel. I was so excited to have benefits, to have a steady income and to join a group that was doing things the rest of the world couldn’t yet imagine with handwriting and voice recognition. Granted I was the financial analyst and not an engineer – but I still had an important role to play ensuring the engineers got and kept their funding and got swift approval for purchases of bits and bobs that would help them develop the technology in-house. Somewhere in accepting that job, I neglected my passion for teaching and helping others. I was a student teacher in high school and a tutor in college. It took me nearly 6 years to figure out that I wasn’t playing to this strength or fueling my passion.

My advice to you this time – get in touch with your passions, understand and document your strengths, be true to your path and pursue it relentlessly. Journaling is a great way to understand yourself. Answer this question, “What would I do for free?” What would you do happily, repeatedly, day in and day out even if no one paid you? Spend a solid few hours on understanding the type of work and activities you would pursue.

Explore your strengths. Ask your parents, people who raised you, siblings, friends, professors, roommates and other people who know you best to list out your strengths. Look for patterns – see what resonates. Resist the temptation to discount their opinions. Just listen. Take it all in and write it down. Take a few strengths assessments to give yourself more words to describe what you do well and can do consistently.

With those two things done – look at the jobs you’re applying for and the classes you’ve taken. How do they use your strengths and passions? What if they don’t? Do you have a mismatch? Are you pursing a job or a career you can see yourself doing for the next 10 years? Next 20?

My vision for myself changed dramatically after I got back in touch with my dreams, my thoughts and my passions. Lucky for me – teaching inside Intel is easy. We have a volunteer University. Thousands of classes are offered every year to Intel employees worldwide with fellow Intel employees teaching them. The classes span the gamut from C++ to Strengthening Manager Skills to how to lead Effective Meetings. I teach several classes every month to help new Managers transition from Individual Contributor roles and help all employees focus on Career Development. Every year or so I learn something new and work with Intel University to figure out how I can share that with others. Teaching fuels me and gives me fresh perspective I can take back to my regular job. What fuels you? What are you doing to get in touch with your Passions?


*Although Intel’s Sabbatical program is specific to the U.S. and Canada, we also have paid-time off options in other countries. Find out more about Intel’s different compensation and benefits packages offered around the world.

7 thoughts on “Finding Your Passion – The Path to Self-Discovery

  1. While its so refreshing to read about this. Personally I have a totally different experience to share. I am from India and have been earlier a unix systems engineer. In my 7th year (coincidentally) of my career, I took a two months break from work which was unpaid and they settled my equations completely so that if I do not choose to return, everything was settled. The tricky part here was, while I needed a break, it was more like a challenge to the company or unit, whether to sack me or not. A colleague in another country was asked to leave when he asked for a 2 months break. Since they needed my services, they accepted my whims/fancy, as they saw it, of taking a clean 2 months unpaid leave. When I returned, I had my mind cleared of the the clutter and I finally ended up transitioning into Sales while spending sometime with Pre-Sales roles to smoothen the transition. After couple of years, I enrolled into executive MBA program along with my work. Further after an year or so, I took a break from work and started exploring social projects and how to use effective/corporate methodologies to solve social issues. After finishing my MBA program and a fair research that I did during this time, I am somewhere struggling to get back into the industry I belong to. The reason is simple, I dared to step out and take a look at myself and surroundings. I have experienced prominent companies’ HR talking to me in a negative manner in India while their quarterly magazines or top management messages would endorse my stance. So while it looks good on paper or a culture of the west, it still needs and it will take time to get, on the ground, acceptance in countries such as India. The reason could be simply but a rampant availability of working force and hence no time/slots for people who step out of the race/queue. I haven’t got an opportunity to interact with HR@Intel-India though.

  2. Sujit: Your comments and your path are very interesting to me. I am beginning to work with a team in India and I have noticed that the culture and beliefs of what success looks like inside a Corporation is very different between India and the US. I have some questions/ideas for you. Have you considered working for a multi-national outside of India? I believe your experience and education would be of interest to companies who work inside and outside of India. Maybe working overseas for a bit and then transferring back to India once you’ve developed a reputation would be beneficial. Finance at Intel would find your experience and education interesting. With an engineering undergrad and MBA, you bring a unique perspective and skillset. At this time I see one job opening in Treasury in India. There is also an Operations Manager position open under Administrative. Both are listed at Best wishes as your pursue your passion!

  3. Thanks Vikki for your response and wishes. While I noticed this blog on linkedin, after reading through it, I did check Jobs@Intel-India and applied on a current opportunity for Strategic Alliances Role in Delhi. At the end of it, we need professional, sensible and happy people running our Enterprises and the World. :) Cheers Sujit !

  4. There really must be something about a 7-year break! Mine was self- rather than organization driven, but it’s lead me to a more fulfilling path. Asking the right questions does help. transitions aren’t always smooth in trying to reclaim your path towards fulfilment, but it’s worth it. It’s been 4 years since I took a hard look at my old career. 1 MBA and a doctoral pursuit in process, all I can say is I am more alive now than I ever was…hopefully the financials will catch up soon enough, but that’s the point- I’m happy to be me.

  5. Vikki- This article hits home. I have currently submitted my resume with Intel in the finance department at the Chandler location and your message has moved touched and inspired me even more to be part of Intel.

    This year I’ve taken some time to reflect back on my careers and rediscover myself. You’re right, it’s not about the money, title or company that fuels your passion. You have to dig deep and find who you are… your strengths, your likes, your passion and go for it.

    Here is a quote that I’ve enjoyed during my reflection. Thank you

    “The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he’s always doing both.

  6. @ Sujit – best wishes as you pursue a career at Intel. @Sade – best wishes as you continue to follow your passion! I am signed up for a class this fall. Nothing as challenging as a Doctorate – however, I am really looking forward to being back in the classroom. @Vincent – I love the quote. Thank you for sharing!

  7. Hello sir

    I am an Indian student presently doing my Btech final year in electronics and communication department. Please guide me how to lay a good base for myself to ensure a satisfactory job which would ignite my mind with innovative ideas and enhance my skills.

    Thank you !

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