As most of you may have heard, about a month after posting how much I loved working for Ekso Bionics, I was laid off. It was one of those situations where everyone at the company was sad about the layoffs. No one wanted to lay people off; it was just that the current financial situation didn't allow them to keep as many people. Everyone was really supportive. As he was giving me the bad news, the CEO even offered to give me a referral at a couple other companies. I took him up on the offer, and that is how (two months later) I started working for Varian Medical Systems.
For those two months, I sent out resumes (lots of them), looked up companies, oh and we went on a cruise. It turned out that we'd already bought tickets (about two weeks before the layoffs) and they were non-refundable, so we decided to go anyway (Brooke has done an excellent job of reporting on that). It was a blast. Anyway, this time I spent looking for work really helped me to reflect on what I was wanting, career-wise. I knew that I loved the work at Ekso. But this made me figure out why. Did I love the job because it was really cool? Or did I love it because I was doing something that made a huge difference in people's lives? The answer was yes to both of them. But there aren't very many companies that really have both aspects of that in huge amounts. I looked at companies of each type. Some of the "cool" companies I looked at included Disney Imagineering, Water Entertainment Technologies, and IDEO.
In the end, I was offered a job at Varian. They tend to fall a little more on the "making a difference" side and a little less on the "that's so cool!" side. They make radiotherapy machines to treat cancer. I'm helping to design the things that direct radiation at cancer cells but not at the good cells around the tumor. Brooke likes to say, "well you may not be helping people walk, but you can say that you're helping cure cancer!" It's interesting, technically challenging work. I really enjoy it and it's rewarding. Maybe someday I'll work designing theme park rides, but for now, curing cancer is pretty awesome.
So, in conclusion, I still love my job!