by syaffolee

What to Do After Getting Out of School

To be honest, I hate the question. What am I supposed to say in response? What are they expecting? I’m a planner, but I don’t plan that far ahead since I’m aware that something might come up to take me in an entirely new direction. This is not to say that I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to do once I get out of school, but it doesn’t mean that I’m dead set on one career path either. So am I supposed to say, “Yeah, I want to be this” or “I don’t know”?

Last week Randy Schekman, a molecular cell biologist at Berkeley specializing in organelle vesicle transport and membrane fusion, gave a seminar on career options in the biomedical field. On the board, he drew a diagram that looked something like this:

career diagram

Schekman also mentioned three important questions that a student has to consider before blundering onto the canonical grad student/post-doc/prof path: Do you have an enjoyable lab experience? Have you published something significant in the field? Do you find yourself daydreaming about science in your spare time? Schekman cautions that you have to answer these questions adequately before proceeding anywhere although he neglected (perhaps purposefully?) to define what an adequate response was.

Which is all well and good for deciding for myself what my future will be, but it tells me nothing about deflecting nosy people from trying to pry out my thoughts on the matter before I’m ready to discuss them.