March Scientiae: Continuity

Scientiae is back! This month, Amanda over at A Lady Scientist is hosting, and she asks us to write about:

Continuity. The word applies not only to Scientiae (we’re on year 3!), but Science, too.

Well, if there is one thing that my professional life has lacked, it is continuity. I don’t know if I am scared of it, or just get bored of it, but it seems that I’m changing my career path every few years.

In high school, I was big into music, and I was actually really good. I wanted to major in it in university…but I didn’t. I went in to physics instead (eventually – I changed my major about 4 times in my first year).

After my physics degree, I changed courses slightly and did X-ray astronomy for my masters. This wasn’t too much of a stretch, and I don’t really remember what the learning curve was like. My guess is that there was more of a change simply going from undergraduate to graduate, as opposed to research topic.

For my PhD, I switched fields. Still within astronomy, but closer to home, I studied comets and asteroids in our Solar System. I remember distinctly sitting in group meetings not knowing what the hell people were talking about. Eventually I got caught up, and by the end of my degree I was quite comfortable talking shop with other planetary scientists.

Here I am again, switching fields in my post-doc — this time in a more major way. Instead of space, I’m back on earth, studying earthquakes. I’m about a month in and I’m still really lost. Like really lost. Although, I do have my moments of clarity, and some things overlap (observation techniques, for example), so I’m not totally out to lunch.

So, the moral of the story is that I have no continuity in my professional life. It’s be more like a series of discontinuities. If you plot my learning curve over time, it would look very similar to a saw blade.

Thankfully, I am getting some continuity/stability in my personal life. DH and I have been together for almost 4 years, and we are finally settling down. We’re even in the midst of buying a house! So, maybe the continuity from this part of my life will balance out the discontinuity in my career?


Comments on: "March Scientiae: Continuity" (3)

  1. Your career might seem discontinous in some ways, but I bet there are overarching themes you can find that tie them together. (And as a non-physicist/non-astronomer, I guess I don't understand the big distinction between “X-ray astronomy” and “asteroid science”; it all just sounds like “space science” to me! =)

    Regardless of our professional lives, continuity in our personal lives is good. It's good to have that stable home base, and I'm grateful for it. Good luck with closing on your new house! (exciting!)


  2. Alyssa, I can totally relate to this post. DH always gives me crap about switching jobs. When I entered into College I was going to be a programmer and major in Computer science – that lasted a quarter. I ended up graduating with a Womens Studies & Communications major and loving it. I worked for a non-profit until DH and I moved down to the Twin Cities.

    Then I didn't know what I was going to do. I couldn't make any money even to just live…now 6 years later I have worked for 5 companies and had 6 positions within those company. I joined a consulting firm awhile back to “switch” jobs without actually switching, that didn't work and now I am a full time employee as a Sr. Systems Analyst with an IT firm at a Health Care Insurance company…it's a far cry from non-profit….

    Anyway my point is there are a lot of us that have that within our jobs and I see new jobs with unknowns (I have had them) as challenges! You will do wonderful, just give yourself some time.


  3. We had Francis Collins speaking at our church today so I'm in a scientific frame of mind which is really rare for me — I'd say that continuity in relationships is definitely far more important that continuity of career. Perhaps you will always have a wide variety of interests or maybe one day you'll find your niche or discover that the disparate parts are all part of one greater thing. At any rate, I think what counts in life is what Eugene Peterson coined as “A long obedience in the same direction” — there's a continuity in that.


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