Our science careers will present us with many choices, either by design or by desire. Whether you’ve been studying hard for years and just starting out, or you have been in the work force for a few years, these choices will have a big impact on our lives. Often this involves trade-offs such as considering the security of a steady paycheck, or personal fulfillment. How do you know which is the right choice?
Here are a few questions to ask yourself to see if your next move will lead you down your desired path in your scientific career.
1) What do you really want out of a career? Take the time to really consider what you want; not what your family or boss want you to do, or what you should do based on the size of your monthly mortgage. If you are not sure yet, consider doing more exploration. Compare different career options for scientists before making any major decisions by:
- Talking to other scientists in different sectors (industry, policy, etc.) and ask what they love and hate about their careers.
- Looking at job boards online to see what options exist for employment in the scientific community.
- Asking what additional education is necessary for this career.
2) Am I willing to trade income for other goals? While a big paycheck certainly makes paying the bills easier, consider these other factors when it comes to planning your scientific career:
- Don’t just guess, really track and monitor your current expenses.
- Determine the bare minimum of income that you must earn to meet your financial responsibilities.
- If re-location is an option, look up the housing costs and other expenses for the cities where you want to live.
- Having this information may open up more career options than you realized.
3) How much time do I have to reach my career goals? Realize we all start near the “bottom of the ladder.” How hard are you willing to work to achieve your dream career? It will take time to reach the top of the ladder, so make sure your lifestyle and financial demands can handle it by:
- Think long-term financial needs. Will you be putting kids through college in 10 years? Will your paycheck increase to meet those financial demands?
- Think about your lifestyle needs. Will you be able to handle a job that requires extensive travel if you plan on having children? Or will your chosen career require several relocations or many years to get to the desired position?
Ultimately you’re responsible for your own career. Make sure you look at both sides of the coin when choosing your career aspirations. Your heart AND your wallet are factors to consider before leaping into that new job!
Need more help fine tuning your scientific career? Check out the Thermo Fisher Scientific Aspire member program. No matter where you are in career path, the Aspire member program is designed to help you advance your career.