My problem is not that I don’t know what to do with my life…

It’s that I don’t know how to get there. It’s also that I want to do everything. *sigh*

Here’s what we know:
1) I do NOT want a career in academia. My boss, who is kind of a big deal, does none of her own research. She spends her time supervising other projects, arguing debating with other PIs at our Fight Club weekly meetings, and generally being the CEO of her lab. Which is great, but if I were to go into academia, I’d want to be doing my own research. And I’m learning that that kind of life is very rare, and requires a kind of devotion to your work that I don’t think I can give. One of the PIs on my floor does do her own research, but she’s been a PI for under a year now, and she only has 2.5 people in her lab (the .5 being a rotating grad student.)

2) I don’t really want to be in school for another 5-6 years….

3) I want a career where I feel as though I am affecting the world (and more specifically, the worlds of science and medicine.) I am incredibly lucky to have grown up with supportive parents in a household where we may not have been rich, but I never needed something I didn’t already have. I went to a great high school, an excellent college, and I intend on going to a great grad school. I have tons of wonderful friends, and a fantastic boyfriend who still loves me despite the fact that he followed me to Syracuse, one of the most boring cities in America. With all these blessings I need to do something with them.

3) I want to go home. Maybe not necessarily to Minneapolis (stupid U of M not having a professional master’s program in CLS), but I would love to be a car ride away. And not a 17-plus hours “I will walk to Syracuse if it gets me out of this car” kind of car ride. I miss my friends (though they seem to be congregating out East), I miss my family, and I miss living in a “real” city. Dear Syracuse, you may think of yourself as a metro area, but you are not. Sorry to burst your bubble. Love, Robin

4) I am 90% sure I want to go to grad school for clinical lab science. Why? Well let me open up my Word doc telling me why. In case I forget something important when I am writing admissions essays. My God I’m prepared. Anywho, reason 1: There is an extreme amount of flexibility in the career. I can work just about anywhere there is a lab. This should help my inability to pick just one thing to do. Reason #2: The career is freakin’ practical!!! Tons of job security as well as great pay.  Reason 3: I really, really, really like laboratory work. I like trying to figure things out (although troubleshooting PCR tests my patience), and I like playing detective. Watch Mystery Diagnosis with me sometime. Reason 4: Going along with reason #2, I just like to know things!!! I research issues in politics, I read tabloid covers, I’m constantly asking questions, and I can’t stand knowing something is being hidden from me (even if it’s a Christmas present.) Reason #5: I think human diseases are sweet. Not having them, obviously. But understanding how they work fascinates me. Reason #6: I would love to use my bachelor’s degree for something. Reason #7:  I want a family. I want to be a mom (NOT ANYTIME SOON.) This career doesn’t take long to be educated for, and allows me to have a family life.

It seems pretty clear to me that Clinical Laboratory Science is the way to go.  Yet, I have doubts. I think I am very afraid of picking the “wrong” career path and sending myself back to school in a never-ending vicious cycle that ends with my student loans causing the government to be bought out by China. Or has that already happened?

One thing I did recently was looked for internship type programs at the CDC. It would be an absolute DREAM to work for them. I’m going to apply for the Emerging Infectious Diseases training fellowship. I would be placed in a CDC lab for a year, paid a stipend that’s more than I’m making now, be able to network and go to conferences, and hello!!! I’d be working for the CDC!!!! Excuse me while I swoon.

For actual grad school programs, I will be applying to Rush University in Chicago, which is my #1 choice. I will also be applying to Michigan State, UW-Milwaukee (if they get their professional master’s program ready in time), the University of Washington, and potentially Medical College of Georgia. Now other than being the location of the CDC, I’d rather not go to school in Georgia. But these programs take like ~20 people a year, and I’m really afraid I won’t get in. So I have two back-ups (UWash being the other one), and I have the CDC program. I hope it’s enough.

I suppose I should register for the GRE someday too, huh? If only I had $$ to do. Who has two thumbs and just had to buy train tickets for her brother’s wedding? This girl. And oh crap I have shoes to get, and a dress to get fitted. Thankfully Missy’s not a bridezilla. I’m not even living at HOME and being a bridesmaid is stressing me out. *sigh*

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About evolutionofascientist

I'm a 2009 graduate of the University of Minnesota. I majored in genetics, cell biology, and development. I'm currently living in Syracuse, NY and hoping to start grad school in the fall of 2011.
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One Response to My problem is not that I don’t know what to do with my life…

  1. Leora says:

    Dear evolutionofascientist:

    My name is Leora Trub and I am a student in the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. Program at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY). I am conducting a study of the reasons that people blog and what benefits it brings, which at this point are still largely unexplored in research studies. I am therefore reaching out to you as a blogger who can help deepen our understanding of this phenomenon. I believe that your voice is an important one to be heard and hope you will enjoy participating in the study. I have developed an online questionnaire that asks about specific aspects of blogging as well as asking about feelings about yourself and others in your life. The survey is a mix of numerical scales and opportunities to reflect in an open-ended format about the role of blogging in your life, and how it has changed over time.

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    Doctoral student in Clinical Psychology
    Graduate School of the City University of New York
    365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10016-4309
    ltrub@gc.cuny.edu

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