It's a Micro World after all is a blog dedicated to discussing pretty much whatever I feel like. When I delve into scientific matters it will primarily be discussing microbiology (agricultural, bioenergy, and environmental focus). Otherwise, I'll probably ramble on about sports and life.
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The "What If?" blog theme for this month concerns what we feel our career path might have been had we not decided to do what we're doing now. I've mulled this question over in my head a number of times, not as often as I used to when I was still in graduate school*, so I have a pretty good idea of where I might have ended up.
Seriously. It started back in my undergraduate days. Back then at my university we had what was known as "general electives". The university was broken into eight disciplines, and in addition to your pre-reqs, you needed to take a total of nine classes from the discipline which did not contain your major. For me, my major (Medical Technology) was in the Life Sciences, so I needed to take classes from the Physical Sciences, Social Sciences, Arts, Foreign Languages and Cross Cultural Studies, etc. The class had to be three credits, and had to be on the "general education" list, and departments often taught courses which would stir student interest. The Geology Department at my university had a class entitled "Geology of National Parks" and it seemed like an interesting enough class. So I enrolled. And yes, there is a textbook for this class. It's pretty good, and I still have it to this day.
Moraine Lake, Banff National Park
The class covered, as you would guess, a lot of the geology of both US and Canadian National Parks. We learned about glaciers and their effect on the landscape (to this day I still want to travel to Banff National Park), we learned about the geological forces behind Yellowstone, we covered Death Valley, Crater Lake, Bryce Canyon ... we covered it all. And while I found all of that deeply interesting, I waited for us to cover Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. That was THE reason I signed up for the class. I wanted to know everything about volcanoes, I wanted to know what they looked like, how they formed, how they persisted, how people studied them. I was enthralled with tales about Vesuvius, I had heard stories about Krakatoa, I saw dozens of stories on Mount Saint Helens. I loved volcanoes. (ed note: I still love volcanoes). And the class did not disappoint. I learned more about volcanoes in that class than I'll ever need to know, and I loved every minute of it. As a matter of fact, I wound up getting the highest grade on both semester exams in that class, scoring higher than even the senior geology students (which caused the professor to lecture them when handing back exam #2 ... after he found out I was a Med Tech and not a sophomore entering the Geology Department).
So why didn't I go into geology? Probably because I didn't want to take any more math and physics. For some reason I thought Organic Chemistry was going to be an easier time of things (it wasn't) and I was looking forward to my Microbiology classes in the upcoming semester. I had started on the Med Tech track the day I stepped foot onto campus, and I didn't want to back out after two full semesters of coursework. I doubt I would have lost much time in the scheme of things and I don't regret my decisions ... most days.
Though there is a part of me that wonders what it might of been like had I gone into geology and studied to become a vulcanologist. Would I be living in Hawai'i today, working maybe for the USGS monitoring Kílauea? Or maybe working for the US National Parks Service at Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park? Or maybe I'd be somewhere else in the world, monitoring another volcano somewhere, doing research trying to predict the next eruption, finding ways to increase the warning time for the local residents. Is it too late to consider a career change?
Could this have been me?
*Oftentimes when experiments had gone belly up, I debated whether it was worth seeing it all through or starting from scratch and going down an alternate career path.
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Yep. Two pictures. But that one of GR and the donkey might get you in trouble. I think that kind of thing is banned in pretty much all 50 states.
Careers do take long winding paths (mine certainly has) and your's still has time to wind alot! Perhaps you can study thermophiles in volcanoes!
Um ... so when I read that the first time I immediately thought it had something to do with Star Trek. Oops!
Awesome idea! At the very least, it's a great reason to get on over to Yellowstone National Park* on the company dime! ;) Welcome to LabSpaces Cindy, and thanks for commenting!
*Yellowstone sits on top of a "supervolcano" which is the source of all of Yellowstones hot springs and geysers.
Yes, the pix are awesome and that is a fascinating field!! And no, I think it is never too late to change, add, or take deeper interest in something. :)
I have a whole lot of time and effort invested in my career now, so while it's probably not too late to change, I'd need to have some pretty impressive incentive to change at this point! I'll probably go the "deeper interest" route. I really do need to plan a trip to Hawai'i at some point! Banff too!
Things like this makes me wonder if we are making our youth to decide their career orientation too early. How many awesome (insert job description) we have lost because they thought they would be better at (insert another job description).
Thanks Jane. :)
yannisguerra, thats quite possible. I know that when I went to college, if I wanted to get out in 4 years with my B.S., I pretty much needed to start on my pre-reqs the first day of school ... which means I really needed to know what area I wanted to focus on before I even got to college. To ask that of a 16-17 year old is quite a demand. Of course, teenagers need to mature at some point ... or one might argue. ;) IIRC England puts children on career tracks even earlier than the United States does ... though someone who is better "in the know" might want clarify/correct that statement.
Thanks for that bit of history Alisha. Very interesting!