At Science Finance, we talk about how to manage your money as a scientist. But… what if you can’t be one? A serious topic and one I know about first hand.
Not Finding A Position Is Common
We don’t really become scientists to be rich or famous. You usually pick a degree, such as wildlife biologist (who, me?) because science gets you excited. While some people would rather catch up on celebrity gossip via TMZ, you’re watching Planet Earth trying to figure out how the photographer didn’t get eaten by the bear. Doing what you love is what you long to do but being a scientist doesn’t always make that easy.
Due to weird government policies and budget cuts, jobs are a lot harder to come by. I worked for a government agency as a biological science technician for a few months but once I reached my hourly cap, I was done. I miss being in the field and talk more about it in the video above. Since I have first-hand experience going to school to be a scientist and well, not being a scientist, I wanted to share a few things I’ve learned along the way.
Don’t Equate Your Personal Worth With Your Job Title
YOU ARE NOT YOUR JOB!
You don’t have control over any of these things:
- How much funding job agencies get
- What jobs are listed
- What skills are required for that job
- What residency requirements there are for that job
- Where those jobs are
- Who else applies
- Who the hiring manager personally likes
- Whether the hiring manager already has someone in mind for the job
- How much leniency the hiring manager has in making a decision
Don’t put your sense of self-worth and value in the hands of a system you can’t control. This is a recipe for failure. Even worse than when I try to make souffles.
After I graduated, I found myself as a lab animal caretaker. Yup, I was cleaning up lab rat poo even though I had a masters degree! Despite having done the job before while in undergrad, it took on a whole new meaning. I became depressed because I associated my identity with my work after I had finished my course of study.
It took me a long time to learn this, but my value is worth more than my day job and so is yours.
Focus On Something… Other Than Science!
It sounds counterintuitive but finding a different community to associate myself with outside of science really helped when my identity was tied up in being a scientist. When I decided to focus on my money, I started reading personal finance blogs and got involved in the community that goes along with it. By focusing on what I could control (my spending), I felt better about the things I couldn’t (like finding a job in my field of study).
The internet is a great place and you can find or do just about anything these days. Maybe you want to take up a new hobby or get back into an old one. Maybe you want to meet new people or just find more things to do with the ones you already know. Do a Google search and get moving.
I have a few more suggestions to get through the tough time in the video up above. But enough about me. I want to know, have you had to cope with not being a scientist? What did you do to get yourself through it?