Be a Part of Something Bigger than Yourself: An Interview with Jesse Zimmerman


The Sustainable Sciences Institute (SSI) works to equip local professionals in resource-poor settings to help them better meet the public health needs of their communities. They are there laying the groundwork for research when a virus first hits and work closely with the Ministry of Health to combat the virus.

Enter Jesse Zimmerman. Jesse is the Head Financial Administrator for the Nicaraguan branch of SSI. He’d always had an interest in working abroad, but he never imagined himself in the health sector. His previous jobs include serving as an in-country director for a smaller NGO in Peru and working for a year in Nicaragua, which is where he met his wife. When he found this Financial Administrator position with SSI on an online job board, he didn’t think he’d get it. In fact, he wouldn’t have even applied if it weren’t for his wife encouraging him to go for it.

Don’t Concern Yourself with the Risk of Failure

As I’m talking to Jesse, I keep wondering: did these jobs just happen to him?. As if he stumbled upon something that sounded cool and went for it. But the more I heard, the more it made sense; especially when he told me, “I don’t know if I’ll ever be settled. I tell myself if I fail I fail, so I give it a shot.” Ohhh…it’s not that these super-cool sounding jobs just happened to him, he just didn’t concern himself with the risk of failure.

“People are so concerned about what everyone else thinks. But screw it, who cares what anyone thinks?”

When I asked Jesse what advice he would offer someone who was unhappy with their job, he laid it out pretty plainly. “People are so concerned about what everyone else thinks. But screw it, who cares what anyone thinks? If you’re in a job and miserable because you think it’s what you’re supposed to do, that’s dumb. Don’t do that.”

We get caught up in this idea of finding the perfect job in the perfect place and imagine that it will be everything we ever wanted. We get so enamoured with what we think we want, that we’re unhappy with anything that seems like less. But what I got from my interview with Jesse was this: don’t be afraid to try things. Because–really–what’s the worst that could happen?

Be a Part of Something Bigger than Yourself

For Jesse, he found a way to be a part of something much larger than himself. “I work with a lot of people much smarter than I am but I still get to contribute to what they are doing.” I think for most Millennials, the goal is to do just that, to be a part of something bigger. Something that makes an impact on the world around them. But sometimes we focus so hard on what we think we want, we end up missing all the other opportunities around us. In this, I say we take Jesse’s advice: “That’s dumb. Don’t do that.”

And if you’ve found that thing you think would be awesome but you’re scared that you’re not cut out for it, you should take Jesse’s other advice. “If I fail I fail, so give it a shot.” Because hey, what’s the worst that could happen?