Monday, December 15, 2008

Making plans

I've always been one for planning the future.  Today I started thinking back to some of those plans and I realized that things have rarely ever turned out the way that I had intended.  Life seems to take its own direction without regard to my plans, and usually I think it turns out just as good or better that way.  I've always just sort of fallen into the next great stage of life.  Marriage, college, career, graduate school.  I'm not implying I wasn't involved or that these things just happened to me.  Point of fact I worked my tush off for each one of them.  But each turned out entirely different than my plans had been, and each seemed to just fall into place in the beginning.  

What seems cruelly ironic about this is I think that unknowingly I've been depending on the next great stage of life to line itself up after graduate school.  At conferences, in discussion with old friends and peers, reading the news, I feel like I'm always on the watch for what will be next for me.  Some clue of what the future holds.   Now, unlike in the past, I have no plan for what will come next.  I have no solid answer for my plans after grad school, though I usually make something up about getting a job.  (A plan that seems less and less likely every time I read the news.)

I have to wonder, was there a point to planning? Will life just go the right way if I work hard and keep myself open to new directions?  Or was having the plan an important part of being redirected to where I am now?


Michael said...

Eeeek. Tough questions to answer. :-) I had a bit of a "when I'm done with school, what the hell am I going to do?" crisis like a year ago. Luckily, for me, my degree is a little more linear. It's easy to fall into the librarian mold at an academic or public library.

Do you think you'll stop at a masters? I'm sure there are a lot of research opportunities for you with that. And, you can always continue on for a PhD, gain more research opportunities, open up teaching?

I know it sounds a little too ambiguous, but figure out what you like and follow that path. You'll figure out how to make it work for a career. Having a nice professional network will help too. Those conferences will pay off, big-time! :-)

MistressofScience said...

Hmmmmm. Well Michael, that's always a tough one.
To PhD or not to PhD?

I think a PhD would actually be very doable for me. Funding isn't hard to come by in this field (no that isn't a typo, some areas of science can still find funding, and pay their students living wages) and I feel confident that I'd both enjoy doing it and be successful, but I just don't know if there is a need for me to go on to a PhD.

I would be further delaying "adulthood", career, family, blah, blah and in turn be somewhat limiting the total number of jobs available to me. The jobs would be bigger and arguably better (at least usually better paid, if not other aspects).

But on the other hand, there is something so appealing about the shear quantity of knowledge I could obtain by continuing with school. I think my thoughts must resemble a heroin addicts when I contemplate advancing my education.

A lot of my office-mates ask me about it, and at one point even most of my committee members seemed in favor of it. A PhD is definitely something I have kept "on the table" for an optional direction, but I haven't exactly settled on it.

Most the time I think I'd like to work for a few years before making up my mind. I learned so much in my job after undergraduate school, I think a few years in the real world is just as valuable as spending them in school.