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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Center of Attention

When I was going to grad school, there was sort of a quiet understanding that when you got your Ph.D., you would do some post-doctoral research, then you would take a sliver of what you learned from your post-doc research and use it to morph into a brand new academic researcher.  Although no one of any authority actually said so, you just knew that if you did something else, you would disappoint your graduate adviser.

No matter how you felt about your graduate adviser, no one wanted to disappoint them.

Now that I'm doing something else (and probably disappointing my graduate adviser--*I'm sorry.  Doctah Doctah!  I'm sorry*), the graduate school program from which I got my doctoral degree is at least exposing the current crop of PeeAychDee'ers-to-be to "alternative careers."  So, a handful of times in the last year I've been requested to about my job to fresh young minds.

This also, of course, means that I get to feed my ego.  I admit it; I'm vain and I like to impress smart people.

It's more than just preening, though.  I have a cool job.  I have a cool job that I can't even say I knew existed in any real sense before I started doing it.

It's truly a shame that I didn't know about it before I fell into it, really.  Not that I think it would have necessarily changed the course of my career or where I am, now.  But I wasn't the only one who felt a sense of almost-shame for wanting to do something other than the expected academic route.  The fact is, I'm not the only one that knew I was going to be bored to tears with a single research path, but I suspect that many of my classmates are still struggling with their career goals simply because they didn't realize that they could do something else.

Fortunately, I wasn't the only one that snuck out.  There were three others at the career panel I participated in today that had cool (and I mean cool) "non-traditional" careers. 

When the panel host asked how we got into our careers, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that they'd also fallen into their careers by simply knowing what they didn't want to do.  (There was a lot of nodding happening as we briefly explained how we ended up where we ended up.)  And I was glad that at least a good number of young adults soon to enter the scary "real" world with their graduate degrees would be aware that they, too, could do something unexpected and without shame. 

1 comment:

  1. There's a lot to be said for serendipity.

    Hal Davis