Question of the Week: July 12th, 2016

Where do you see your future, career-wise?

Many readers are in school and still have no idea–very understandable.  Other people might prefer not to say.  But even if you can’t be specific, I’d like to hear what kinds of things you’d like in a career.  Lots of human interaction, or little?  Independence, or direction?  And do you like to travel?

I am nearing graduation, so I’ve been thinking a lot about possible careers.  One thing that is important to me is a work-life balance.  I don’t understand this society I live in where people who make more than enough money to live on spend so much time at work that they can’t do anything else.  What I’m getting at is that I’m not going to pursue a professorship.  Data science seems particularly appealing at the moment.

About Siggy

Siggy is a physics grad student in the U.S. He is gay gray-A, and makes amateur attempts at asexual activism. His interests include godlessness, scientific skepticism, and math. While not working or blogging, he plays video and board games with his boyfriend, and folds colored squares.
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12 Responses to Question of the Week: July 12th, 2016

  1. Good luck with your upcoming graduation!

    For me, work has always been about making enough money to live on comfortably so that I can do what I want with my life in my own time. I like my job and the way it’s set up really works extremely well for me, but it’s not a big passion in my life and I don’t expect it to be.

    I’ve been thinking in recent months about someday pursuing academic study of Islam, but even in the most optimistic scenario I would need to work full-time in order to support myself in such study and so I’d like to continue the job I have now or a similar one.

    For me, not being able to drive has meant it works by far the best for me to work from home, doing online work (I work in tech support). Having an all-remote team that I connect with online is also congenial for me as an introvert, and I think it makes it easier for me as both Muslim and asexual since it’s less obvious the ways I don’t fit in with most of my co-workers and I rarely have to worry about socializing with them.

    It took me a long time to find a situation that worked for me as well as my current one does and I prize my current stability very highly. It is hard-won.

  2. Silvermoon says:

    In 6 months I’ll finish my second diploma and ideally be able to start working in the industry I’ve chosen (costume- theatre/dance mostly, but I’m warming to the idea of TV as well).
    And I’m starting to freak out, because I haven’t really made many connections yet, I don’t know the ins and outs of the industry, and while I think I’m good in terms of what I can learn at a school there’s so much to learn still.

    Also re-realising the job insecurity of the industry that I’ve chosen purely out of what I love and the fact that I’ll never have much money so maybe I need a backup.

  3. Coyote says:

    I wish I could live on a big ranch.

    Instead I’m probably going to be stuck living in big cities for always.

  4. matty says:

    i’m a tall ship sailor! i wish it were a more diverse field, and sadly i’m not helping (white, male-presenting). also it doesn’t pay well… at all… and it’s seasonal.. i’m having a hard time figuring out what my future as a tall ship sailor is gonna look like but for now i’m having a great time and i feel extremely useful. there’s something about working with yr hands that’s very satisfying. exhausting, but satisfying.

  5. Writer Ace says:

    I’m planning (once I finish my bachelor’s in December and then get my masters and PhD) to go into conflict/preparedness simulation development. Basically either war game simulation development or things like countering violent extremism or responses to attacks. That means probably government or government contractor. It’s the closest thing I can get to both my counterterrorism and fiction writing interests as possible.

    I’ve already done some work in it, so I know that I like working on it and that I’m good at it, which alleviated an amazing amount of stress for my future.

  6. Arrela says:

    I think I want to go into academia and be a proper linguist, but I’m not 100 % sure and also getting those jobs is not exactly easy, so I’m developing a plan b of becoming a teacher, probably in maths and French. Also I am still toying slightly with thoughts of theology, but that’s probably not happening.

  7. Sciatrix says:

    I still can’t make up my mind whether I want to pursue academia and professorships when I graduate or aim for an industrial position. (Like you, Siggy, I find data science particularly appealing, and I’ve been developing some expertise with genome assembly and bioinformatics as well.) I also find both teaching and directing research really rewarding, though, and my field (EEB) has a lot of prominent people insisting that work/life balance is something that academics should be able to attain, including my own PI. And I prefer writing to actually doing the thing that gets me the datasets to play with and analyze, so in many ways I think I might actually be particularly suited to a professorship.

    On the other hand, impostor syndrome, dealing with the massively competitive job market, and also getting myself to graduation on time. It’s going to be an interesting couple of years, and I’m not really pushing myself to decide until I have my next chapter of my dissertation in hand. Plus I’m extremely cynical about academia as a discipline, and grad school hasn’t really helped that any.

    Anyway, I’d like to live in big cities forever. I like cities. I just bought a small house with a tiny fenced yard, and while I like having a bit of land that belongs solely to my household I don’t think I want any more space than that. (I say household because… well, it’s a four-bedroom house, and we’re looking for a new roommate and have one moving in in a couple of weeks. I don’t see the point of having extra rooms that neither I nor my partner intends to use right now!)

  8. Talia says:

    Do you think a professorship necessarily entails a difficult work/life balance?

    I’ve wanted to be a professor for years, but like Sciatrix grad school has only made me more cynical about academia. Timelines, imposter syndrome, and the competition are on my mind as well, but increasingly I’m worried about the critical education students get from the university. Do I have the skills to foster critical activism? Even if I could learn, is this the right space? Do the students care? My questions are all too broad to answer, but they make me wonder if I still want to be a professor. Am I able to achieve what I set out to do? I don’t want to be anything else though.

    One thing I’m trying is writing fantasy fiction inspired by my research fields. Even if I do become a professor, I’d like to be a published fiction writer on the side. Think your typical fantasy novel on elemental magic and vampires, but also exploring abstract academic topics no one but a graduate student really has time to read (if even then). It’s kind of playing with and making a new accessible world out of the content I read. Regurgitating it and messing with it until it does something different. So far it’s going well. I’ve shifted the direction of my research to include fiction in my written exam and I’m planning for it to take up a considerable portion of my eventual dissertation.

    • Siggy says:

      The basic problem with academia is that many professors love their jobs, and as a result there is: a) more competition to get the job, b) longer hours, c) less pay, and d) in general people don’t do a lot to make you want to stay. So unless I would love professorship more than the average academic, it’s not a good choice. And I’m pretty sure that I would love it significantly less than average.

  9. Good luck to everybody graduating soon!

    I’ve always thought that I would go into academia, but some pretty scary grad school experiences have changed my mind. (Long story short: disability discrimination does not make for a good time.) While I mourn for the loss of my grand ten year plan, something good has come out of it. Not going back to school allows me to commit myself full time to my work at the local Children’s Museum which I’ve found to be so fulfilling.

    I’m a worker. I like to be productive and keep busy even with the most mundane tasks. Working is a good thing for me. But working at something that is making a difference in peoples lives is like a dream come true. I always figured that I would be making a difference by teaching in a classroom setting, but this job has allowed me to expand my idea of what I can do for others with my given talents.

    That doesnt mean I only live to work though. I have so many places I want to go and things I want to see all over the world. Maybe I wont be able to see them soon working just above minimum wage, but I feel like the right opportunities will present themselves at the right time. I’m giving myself one year from now (which happens to be when my lease will be up) to decide if I want to stay in Charleston or leave for greener [read as: colder] pastures. And as it looks like my QPP and I are close to ending it after 12 years, so I wouldn’t really have to factor him into where I go. We’ll see how that goes!

  10. luvtheheaven says:

    I just applied the other day for a job helping do live closed captioning on news programs and sports programs, and mainly have been applying for administrative assistant type work. I’d love to be a part of an audio description team or something like that, but it’s hard to get into that kind of field? Similarly I think I might be able to commit to being a 911-emergency dispatcher, but I’m having trouble figuring out how to get my foot in that door – or I might end up in the technical writer/technical editor field in the end writing manuals for how to use software/hardware… my career is completely up in the air at the moment but I feel like some kind of job where I’m behind the scenes helping and where I make enough money to both survive and have a bit of a social life would be my dream. Am I asking for too much? I don’t know. I have been out of college with a relatively useless bachelor’s degree for 4 years now and I feel like a failure at life because of long-term unemployment for the vast majority of that time. The one contracting place that recently hired me for a pretty great admin assistant position that was part time but would likely become full time – the position disappeared, the only person who could train me had to go on long term leave and they didn’t have enough money for it anyway – so I’m back at square one and back in a place of eternal frustration.

    On the other hand, I love the place I’ve been volunteering at since February 2015 and I work many hours per week helping people remotely/over the internet from the comfort of my own home that way. It is so rewarding.

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