Thursday, January 13, 2005

No one is safe anywhere

Went to dinner last night with some acquaintances, one of whom is now looking for a postdoc position. He's basically made up his mind, but ostensibly wanted to discuss the decision with me.

Let's just say, like most scientists, he had already made up his mind and the matter wasn't really open for discussion anymore.

Mostly I was frustrated because he's making a lot of the same mistakes I made, but he seems to want to ignore the possibility of actual advice, which I had none of when I went through this.

You can lead a horse to water, or whatever.

Then today, I talked to a friend who is a medical writer at a company. She makes more money, has tons of great benefits, but after a year she is finally admitting that the job is not giving her everything she hoped it would. Science seems infinite, it's about slow progress toward extremely long-term goals, and lots of people find that frustrating. She went to writing thinking that having deadlines was kind of soothing, having things to check off on a list of To-Dos can be very satisfying. Employee evaluations, the possibility of advancement, all that good stuff. But it makes me sad that it's not what she expected.

One of my professors in college gave me some advice. He said that it doesn't really matter what you do, there will still be frustration and mean people and all that yucky stuff. Basically he said there's no point in wondering whether you'd be happier doing something else, because you won't be happy no matter what.

Or maybe he just meant me.

Anyway I think most career counselors- especially that nut job yesterday- would scream bloody murder at advice like that. But it makes sense in a way- unless you're really miserable, all the time, there's no guarantee that a change will fix much. A lot of the things that suck about work are simply endemic to all jobs.

Ah, the working life...

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