Bored: The Taboo of Science?

June 24, 2008

What a day. Today was ‘career day’ at our little REU world. Except the only careers represented were professorship and oil company-ing. Wow, what a plethora of options we PhD chemists have!

Even though the careers were few, actually talking with the chemists was kind of cool. The one ‘huh?’ moment for me was when I asked the question, “During grad school, did you ever become bored with your research and if so, what did you do to make it exciting again?” That received a blank stare from all involved. If not outright outrage from a great deal of the panelists. It’s like I’d said something that you’re not even allowed to THINK: that, possibly, the research could get dull.

I don’t know if this means that they really, honestly have found something that they absolutely love. If so, more power to them. Maybe it’s just not in my personality type to work on a single isolated problem for 5 years. Or maybe I just haven’t found that problem that I could focus on for 5 years straight.

Though one thing does seem sure for me: I don’t think ‘chemistry’ is my thing. The way their eyes lit up when they talked about synthesizing some new compound, or determining it’s structure, etc. I just don’t see it. I guess I’d rather think about a compound than actually go out and make it. In science, as in life, I’d much rather be a spectator than an active participant.

Overall, the career day was an eye-opening experience. It really made me think long and hard about what sort of career I might want in science. Which I guess was the point in the end.

Now I just have to hope I can become something other than an academic or an oil chemist. Here’s to hopin’! 

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