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 brag...er...talk 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.