Recently, after conversations with friends who work in industry, I’ve been questioning my “career strategy” of pursuing a textbook publishing startup. Generally speaking, the employability of a new graduate is at its peak at graduation. Industry accepts young CS graduates and tells them “Here is 70k, write this code for us” and after a few years they could be pulling in 130+k, which is prof-level income. Regardless of one’s future goals in life a little injection of cash for a person in their thirties sounds like a good thing to have. In general working is a good career move.

Using the language of economics there are opportunity costs of doing the startup thing. First there is the short term financial losses of not having a San Francisco software developer salary right now. Second, and perhaps more importantly, I may be sabotaging my career options should I ever decide to go to industry. Recruiters will ask “what did you do for the past two years?” So doing the startup thing (i.e. not doing the corporate thing) has multiple opportunities costs.

Though such thoughts do turn around in my head, I remained and remain undeterred. I just realized why—this is the inspiration for this post. There are opportunity costs with the corporate career too. This knowledge that I have fresh in my mind after teaching undergraduate math and physics for the last ten years will soon be forgotten. Certainly after two years in industry, I would not remember half the things I can recall off the top of my head right now.

So this is why, now I know, I subconsciously chose this path. We godda do this now and we’ll code later, si besoin.

Aside: I just previewed the latest linear algebra draft and it looks awesome! I’ve been slogging through the corrections during the past couple of weeks (actually months!) and I was feeling low on energy, but now that I see how close we are to the finished product I’m getting all enthusiastic again.

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