2012… for many its nearing the end of the world, for a 4th year grad student, it just means I have 2 1/2 more years of fellowship money, thus I need to get my ass in gear, finish up, and go back into the real world of job hunting. Since my grad school career is approaching its end, I feel like a little kid again as I’m constantly getting asked, “So what do you want to do once you get your PhD?” I get flashbacks of when I was five when I get asked this question, as pretty much what I’m getting asked is “So what do you want to be when you grow up?” My answer back then was “I want to be a vet and help animals, but I also want to be an astronaut so I can go in space and explore other worlds and their wildlife.” I look to where I am now, and I think, “Well, I am doing vet stuff, and I am helping animals (crocs, gators, other reptiles, etc.).” And I love what I do and can’t imagine myself doing anything else, so that’s really important- but as many of us grad students know, that doesn’t really cut it in Academia.
And heaven forbid you tell them you are thinking of working for the Private Sector: non-profits, environmental organizations, government departments, etc. That’s blasphemy and you will be burned at the stake! But with the economy, and lack of funding and support for science in America, many of us our going to have to take the risk of a fiery inferno. Other option is leave the Land of the Free and start looking elsewhere… Rumor has it Southeast Asia is booming with positions, and that’s because their promoting academics and science, not the new Lipo technology or what the latest Snookie and the Kardashians are doing. With Brasil becoming an economic power in our world, that would be another great place to start looking.
So, what DO I plan to do when I get my PhD? I have to admit, I would love to live the lifestyle of Indiana Jones… somewhat. Be connected to a university or some private company, give lectures on your expertise, and get paid to travel and do research internationally (I would like to leave out the possibility of fighting Nazis or crazy psychic Russians- dealing with crocodilians is hard enough!) Luckily I actually know what I want to do, and I know its not going to be easy, but I figured if I could survive grad school, I can accomplish anything! So 2012 is getting myself ready to make the connections and correct preparations to one day run a wildlife sanctuary/refuge where I can continue crocodilian research, incorporating researchers internationally, and establishing some eco-tourism. Now that the flames of Academia are about to descend on me, I warn all those planning to go to grad school or are already sacrificing your sanity for the name of science…be prepared to be open to the opportunities your field may or can take you! Figure out what you want to do, make the contacts and start prepping. A great quote I will end this with that my dad always tells me:
“Preparation and opportunity begets the offspring we call luck.”