Bill Gates has this career advice for 2017 STEM graduates

Charlie Benson
Content Marketing Executive

Entrepreneur Bill Gates recently published an essay detailing his advice for 2017 graduates. 

Gates left Harvard University after two years, without graduating, in 1975 to co-found what went on to become the world's largest PC software company, Microsoft. 

His remarks apply to grads worldwide, of all degree disciplines, but he spoke in particular about the importance of science and technology to have a positive impact on the world - recommending three career paths in particular. 



Flickr / Ben Fisher / GAVI Alliance


Gates said if he were starting his career today, he'd pursue artificial intelligence, energy, or biosciences. 

In a post on, he said artificial intelligence "will make people's lives more productive and creative," and the field of biosciences is "ripe with opportunities to help people live longer, healthier lives." 

He also said grads can do crucial work in the energy sector to make it "clean, affordable, and reliable," which "will be essential in fighting poverty and climate change." 


Gates is co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and has committed full-time to his philanthropic work in recent years.

He explained what graduates need to know to make their own impact on the world: 


Intelligence will get you places, but not everywhere. 

Gates reflected about the early days of Microsoft, when he "believed that if you could write great code, you could also manage people well or run a marketing team or take on any other task." 

He said he has now learnt he "was wrong about that," adding: "intelligence is not quite as important as I thought it was, and it takes many different forms." 

Speaking to the graduate class of 2017, he said it is essential to recognise the talents of the people around you and to work together. He encouraged grads to surround themselves with people who will challenge, teach and push them to be the best they can be. 



You can use your skills to do good, and you can start now. 

Gates said something he wishes he had understood earlier on in life "is what true inequity looks like", recalling a trip he took to Africa in his thirties with Melinda Gates:

"It blew our minds that millions of children were dying from diseases that no one in rich countries even worried about. We thought it was the most unjust thing in the world." 

From then on, they "couldn't wait to get involved" and "start giving back". 

In 2017, things are different, Gates wrote. Now, we all have access to much more knowledge, due to technology. He said graduates should be aware of how technology "empowers you to help in ways we never could."

"You could start fighting inequity sooner," he continued, "whether it is in your own community or in a country halfway round the world." 



To truly change the world, you might have to change your mindset first. 

If Gates could give each 2017 graduate a graduation present, he said, "it would be a copy of The Better Angels of Our Nature, by Steven Pinker... the most inspiring book I have ever read." 

He talked about the impact the book, in which Pinker argues "we are living in the most peaceful time in human history," had on his own worldview. 

Though Pinker's argument "can be a hard case to make," he said, once we believe things are improving, we are more curious to know why and to get involved to further that progress. 

"It doesn't mean you ignore the serious problems we face. It just means you believe they can be solved, and you're moved to act on that belief", he wrote. 


You can read the full essay here. And if you're looking to make your start in Tech, we have 6 graduate jobs you can apply for now. Plus, these 5 roles that are open to STEM grads. 



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