The careers we choose

As I stated in my first post, I spent over 30 years in the biotech industry. OK, 2 of those 30+ years were spent at an academic institution (U Mass Lowell), but even then, most of the work I did was for biotech clients (I also taught classes as an Adjunct Professor). The funny thing is that, had I stuck with my original choice, none of this would have happened. Starting at about age 7, I became fascinated with weather, winter weather in particular. In fact, my friend and I would get on the phone pretty much every time it snowed (which isn’t all that common in Baltimore) and watch and describe it for hours (we were nerdy kids). We would also draw weather maps to try and describe various storms (especially the one that brought rain instead of snow, much to our chagrin). Our knowledge was crude, but we understood that winter storms that passed west and north of Baltimore ushered in warmer air and rain, while storms that passed south and east of Baltimore allowed colder air to flow in, and the result was snow. Yes, we were nuts, but I was mesmerized. I was convinced that I was destined to be a meteorologist. However, as I stated in my last post and the beginning of this one, it was not meant to be. Why? There were 3 main reasons that I can think of; 1) my folks (my father in particular) were vehemently opposed to it, mainly because they had no understanding of what I might do with a meteorology degree (other than become a TV weatherman), 2) as a senior in high school, the chemistry class I was taking had a semester which covered biochemistry and organic chemistry, and I found it very interesting, 3) when I saw the college course load for obtaining a BS in mete0rology (physics, geology, and astronomy with lots of complicated math, remember this was the late ’70s, pre PC age), I was very intimidated and wasn’t sure if I could do it. So I decided to try biochemistry (certainly not simple, but much lass math). And a career was born.

So what do I think about this now? Well, if I had ended up sticking with meteorology, my life of course would have been totally different. I would never have met my wife (whom I met in grad school), so my family (if I ended up having one) would have been completely different. Hey, you can’t look back though. You make your choice and move ahead. Things turned out pretty well, so I surely can’t complain. Also, I don’t feel like I settled. I enjoyed much of my work life, made some contributions, and was paid well for my services. But it does beg the question about whether I made the right career choice. I still am very interested in weather. And now that global warming is front and center (and my biotech career either on hold or over, don’t know yet), I would love to find a way to be involved with it (other than making phone calls asking for donations and licking stamps, no offense to those that do this for the cause). Having no experience, I don’t know if there is a way for me to make a contribution to the debate or the science. Something to investigate in the future.

In closing, I guess I would tell you to follow your passion if you have one. I tried to convey that message to my daughters as they were growing up. If you’re not sure what you want to do, try to get as much exposure as you can (be that in work situations, college, or both) and find something that you think you will enjoy doing. And there’s no reason to stick with something if you’re not happy. It’s a big world out there. Don’t fear moving around and trying new challenges. Most of us spend a significant portion of our time on the job, so do the most you can to make it as happy (or at least pleasant) as possible.

One thought on “The careers we choose

  1. I’m grateful you made the choices you did! Your words were not for nothing. I can honestly say that my success in my career, which was by no means guaranteed, has a lot to do with me feeling confident enough to advocate for myself and be willing to move on when I was unhappy. Thank you ❤

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