The light at the end of the tunnel

There's no greater feeling than finally seeing the light at the end of the grad school tunnel! Photo credit: flickr user SamBoyd Photography.

I’ve been a bit spotty with blogging recently, so I apologize. I’ve been pretty tied up with collecting and analyzing data for what will be the last (I repeat, last) chapter of my dissertation.

It is a wonderful feeling to be close to the end— I can’t overstate that!!

Anyone who has gone through grad school can probably relate to the feeling of utter elation you get when you realize that you will in fact graduate with your Ph.D. in the forseeable future. The end is near!

For those fledgling graduate students out there, you may be a bit jealous of this feeling I have. But I just have to say— stick it out and soon enough you too will know what it feels like to be almost done!

Wow, there are a lot of exclamation marks in this post. Not to be overly dramatic, but throughout the first several years of grad school, it often feels like it’s never going to end. There are ups and downs and more downs (see earlier post about how I fell out of love with research).

The thing about a Ph.D. program is it’s so nebulous when you will finish. It’s not like undergrad where you check off all the boxes, pass all your classes and walk across the stage to get your diploma. It’s hard to explain that to relatives who assume you’ll have a month-long Christmas break since you’re still a student. No, it doesn’t quite work like that actually…

So when it finally hits you that the end is near, it’s an incredible feeling. Especially, I feel, for someone like me, for whom the end of grad school is the end of research, once and for all, and the beginning of doing what I really love.

For those who don’t know, I’ll be diving head first into a science writing career as soon as I graduate. I’m so glad I’ve found what I love, and the thought of waking up and doing my dream job every day (instead of squeezing it in on nights and weekends and wherever there’s extra time) makes me really excited.

I’m already starting to plan for my next steps. I’m applying for another round of science writing internships, as well as the AAAS Mass Media Fellows Program, which gives a select group of science students the opportunity to work as a science journalist for a major media outlet over the summer.

My current home office situation is about as stellar as this gal's, so I'm working on getting an actual desk-in-a-room setup, in the case that I end up working from home after I graduate. Photo credit: flickr user benchilada.

I’m also preparing my application for journalism school, since I’m toying with the idea of getting more formal journalism training before launching a full-blown science writing career. Some science writers say the formal journalism degree isn’t necessary, while others who went that route say they’re glad they did. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all, so I’m going to cast a wide and see what opportunities open up for me.

I’m also taking steps towards setting up an official work space in my home for if I decide to go freelance or take a job that lets me work from home. I want to make sure that my transition from grad school to writing job goes as smoothly as possible. And by that I mean I want to feel like I actually have a “real job” even though I’ll potentially be at home all day. Having a designated home office (instead of just sitting on the couch with my laptop) will help with that.

I’m excited about the upcoming adventures and just wanted to give a mini update and say that all is well, and there are more great blog posts on chemistry careers to come!

By the way, if anyone knows of any chemists who have nontraditional careers and will be in Orlando, FL during the week of PittCon 2012 (March 11-15), I would love it if you could put them in touch with me. I am organizing a networking session titled Chemistry Careers Beyond the Bench and am looking for folks to sit on a panel and chat with everyone about what they do.  Leave a comment below or send me a personal message and I will send along more detailed information. Thanks!

Author: Christine Herman

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1 Comment

  1. “Sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train.”

    Just kidding…kind of.

    Congrats on being almost done. I found that the last days were the ones where time moved the slowest.