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motivation and "career counseling"

Sarah Boomer sarai at u.washington.edu
Mon Mar 25 02:58:01 EST 1996

An intereresting remark about career counseling was made that I had to
respond to.  The idea that a college counselor should be a primary mentor
- not the "teacher" or "professor" - is something I have no faith in.
 In my college, the "career center" was a paper pushing joke - they did
little and were not tremendously knowledgeable or helpful with science
career track individuals.  All the connections and assistance - if any -
were made through the science dept.and the professors.  Even then,
professors were probably ten years behind in their understanding of the
real market, as known by big college research and medical faculty (at
least in my small liberal arts school). And graduate school - our FIRST
EVER career options day was held this weekend - after severe pressure.  It
was, by far, the most amazing event the program has ever done for me.  We
listened to about 20 individuals, most of whom had their PhD talk about
actual choices - and I would say that 80% stated outright that they were
black sheep in the eyes of their peers, advisors, etc. because they
"dropped out."  As long as this terrible attitude persists, there simply
will be no such thing as career options. I thought one of the sadder
themes amongst many speakers was that of truly being raised or holding
pedestalized ideas that they were someday going to cure cancer and win the
Nobel;  obviously, when things didn't go the straight and narrow path the
level of disappointment was even greater.  I would hope that realistic
career choices are presented and, really, connections to people IN THE
FIELD - in many fields are made available because that's the only true
answer in terms of really getting a feel for a career choice. Sadly, I
talked to my undergrad.  mentor recently and he told me that the
university party line and code for advising scientists was still to push
graduate school as the best option, despite a lot of professors being
well aware of the market.
	The same poster made the remark that women are the best bet for
revolutionizing the field.  I sure hope so but I see too many women -
women I work with even, sucked into the idea that you fail if you drop
out, if you want to teach highschool or community college, or whatever.
you don't stay on the research track.  I think, in general, women may be
more creative and comfortable with altering themselves and, I daresay,
accepting an alternate path - I actually heard this noted on that great
NPR special on PhD careers.
Sarah Boomer				email:  sarai at u.washington.edu
Dept. of Microbiology			work phone:  543-3376
Box 357242				work FAX:  543-3376
University of Washington
Seattle, WA  98195

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