Several conversations with people I just met have gone something like this:
So, what did you study in college?
Wow. I hated chemistry! You’re in grad school now, that’s cool… What are you studying?
Huh. So… what are you gonna do after you get your Ph.D.?
Become a writer.
(Blank stare). Hmm… how does that work?
At this point, I go on to explain how I’m super-psyched to use my background in chemistry to communicate science in fun and down-to-earth ways so that anyone can understand.
I’m sure other non-traditional careers folks out there have had conversations like this.
I suppose blank stares are to be expected, since we’re going after careers that are not typical for people with our background. Before I stumbled into the world of non-traditional science careers, I certainly didn’t have the framework to grasp that you could take your science degree and waltz into a seemingly unrelated career path.
I’m happy to be pursuing something that I love, even if it’s atypical. Grad school equips you with a bunch of transferable skills that you can take with you wherever your heart (and job opportunities) lead. So you should never feel boxed in.
Like so many of the people I’ve written profiles about for this blog, I love pursuing my passion! I have never been as excited about a future career prospect as I have been since discovering science writing.
Most people find my non-traditional career goals interesting. Some wonder if I feel I’m wasting my time getting a Ph.D. in chemistry.
I tell them I don’t feel grad school was a waste at all. I’ve learned a ton, both about science and about myself. I’ve grown and matured and am better prepared to confront the challenges of my future career than I would’ve been straight out of college.
That’s not to say grad school is for everyone, or that if I’d do it all again if I could go back knowing I wanted to be a science writer from the start…
I’d like to think I’ve left an impression on some people I’ve talked to (or perhaps other students out there who read this blog), and that some have walked away encouraged to think outside of the box and let themselves dream a little, too…
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