View Poll Results: What led you to your career?

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  • Always wanted to do it

    6 22.22%
  • Role model

    0 0%
  • Teacher

    1 3.70%
  • TV / Film / Book (fiction)

    0 0%
  • TV / Film / Book (factual)

    1 3.70%
  • Accident

    1 3.70%
  • Mistake

    1 3.70%
  • Beer

    0 0%
  • Other

    19 70.37%
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Thread: What led you to your career?

  1. #1
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    What led you to your career?

    If you have / had / will have a career, that is. It's increasingly looking like a privilege.

    For me, it was a mistake - a confusing conversation with a careers master whose focus, in retrospect, was making the school look good rather than finding something that would suit me.
    For my wife, it was a role model - the family General Practitioner, who was a sort of Marcus Welby figure in her young life.

    Grant Hutchison

  2. #2
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    For me it was the draft. I was a physics major, making good grades and earning a graduate school fellowship, but I was increasingly disenchanted with the prospect of a career as a physicist. I had kept up with playing my horn for fun in the college band and orchestra, and when the call to military service came, my high school band director knew someone in one of the premier military bands here in Washington and helped me in arranging for an audition. I found a niche there and never looked back.

  3. #3
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    Was born with a strong inclination towards the sciences. After graduating from college where I paid tuition to do lab work I later celebrated with joy when landing a job where I was paid to do lab work. 30 years from Lab Tech to Principal Scientist. Now Retired.

  4. #4
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    Other.

    I have always liked chemistry, and I had planned on becoming a chemist. Then, late in high school, I started looking hard at the chemistry curriculum. There was a foreign language requirement. I had just spent the last four years learning (poorly) Spanish and had no desire to do that again/some more. Engineering had no such requirement. So I switched to chemical engineering.

    Good decision.
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  5. #5
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    "Always wanted to" is the closest. I've 'always' been interested in science, at least as far back as grade school. A very good chemistry teacher in high school contributed greatly to my picking chemistry, and a a couple of very good professors in college kept me on that path. I was actually kind of doubting chemistry after freshman chemistry, it seemed like it was already all done. Then I had Prof. Berringer for Organic, who spoke about his own research, and about his own adventures, and thinks wrong in the textbooks, and got me interested again. Prof. Banks got me particularly interested in inorganic, solid-state chemistry.

    I suspect, however, that I might have also enjoyed a career in archaeology or something similar, or geology/planetary science, if I had been more familiar with them.
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  6. #6
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    Well this more for the career I wanted. But always like space and science that might been mostly because my grandfather like watching PBS. I might of seen Cosmos when I was really young but can't remember. I was sicked a lot as kid so watched a lot of PBS and in the fifth grade there was a quick explanation of evolution before the station shut down for the night. My grandmother even got me a telescope which was one of those Sears ones and did not work well. In middle school took one those computer programs that showed you possible jobs the outputs were astrophysicist, computer scientist and I think Farmer(still have the printout somewhere).But several issues came up over the years so it did not happen.
    ...I'm still free, you can't take the sky from me.
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  7. #7
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    I was always interested in spacetravel and astronomy. Then at some point I found The Bad Astronomer, and followed his website, eager for updates. It somehow merged to the BAUT forum, then into Cosmoquest. At some point I was asked to become a moderator, after having offered my help in a few situations.

    Oh, professional career? Got my first computer at 12 or 13, was hooked. The end.
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  8. #8
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    I started out as a Graphic Arts major, wanting to do that and Graphic Design. Pain and coordination issues that (later found to be fibromyalgia) made "doing" art difficult made me have to revamp my plan. I had remembered how much I liked my Human Geography "required" class my first semester, so I inquired about the major. I found out they had a Cartography class and this was this "new"-ish thing called GIS that sounded promising. I figured mapping was tied closely with Graphic Design (well, GOOD maps). From there, I took more GIS and Remote Sensing/Satellite Image Processing courses and decided to move into that for my major concentration. After taking Remote Sensing in grad school, with a very charismatic and persuasive professor, I all but dumped the GIS/Cartography angle and focused on Remote Sensing. Hence where I am today as a Geospatial Analyst, mostly working with color adjustments and make large area cartographic products.

    CJSF
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    -They Might Be Giants, "Science Is Real"


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  9. #9
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    I was always interested in space and astronomy and went to college with the full intention of becoming an astronomer. However, after my freshman year, my love for computers got the better of me, and I decided to switch to computer science. I've been there ever since. It just kind of happened.

    As for you, Grant, you've mentioned several times before that you work/worked in the medical field. Your saying it was a mistake makes me think you never liked the job
    ďOf all the sciences cultivated by mankind, Astronomy is acknowledged to be, and undoubtedly is, the most sublime, the most interesting, and the most useful. For, by knowledge derived from this science, not only the bulk of the Earth is discovered, but our very faculties are enlarged with the grandeur of the ideas it conveys, our minds exalted above their low contracted prejudices.Ē - James Ferguson

  10. #10
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    Had no idea, but was good at math and science. My Dad suggested electrical engineering. Got my degree at the ETH in Zurich, then by chance the president of the tennis club I belonged to was Country Manager of Control Data and offered me a job with for a project with the largest Swiss Bank and ended up as Systems Architect for global computer architecture. Now retired.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fiery Phoenix View Post
    As for you, Grant, you've mentioned several times before that you work/worked in the medical field. Your saying it was a mistake makes me think you never liked the job
    It was fine. And more interesting than most jobs. And I was good at it, because there's a sort of moral obligation to be as good as you can be at a job like that.
    But with a careers master who was interested in me, rather than in buffing the school's record for university places, I would never have ended up in medicine. And nowadays I'd never be admitted to Medical School, because I didn't have a thought in my head about why I "wanted" to be a doctor - I wouldn't get past the interview stage.

    Grant Hutchison

  12. #12
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    I've had career path changes along the way so I had to choose "Other".

    I had an interest in electronics when I enlisted in the USAF and my max score in that area of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery guaranteed me a job that field. I selected and was chosen for an avionics specialty that gave me the opportunity to work with daytime, low-light, and infrared imaging systems and more importantly, lasers. I did that for 12 years and as luck would have it, I spent much of that time on the flight line, rather than in the shop with my fingers in the black boxes. Toward the end of that time, I had a couple of idiopathic seizures. It was enough to disqualify me from working around electronics, operating aircraft, heights, etc. So I had to choose a new field.

    I wound up in health care administration...and without the benefit of attending the formal training course. This was shortly after Operation Desert Shield had kicked off. One day, I was supervising a cargo load crew. The next day, I was the NCO in Charge of the hospital outpatient records office, which was short staffed due to the deployment. After that, I held positions in personnel services, patient services, medical resource management, and finally, aeromedical evacuation. Then it came time to retire.

    I was profoundly weary of hospital politics, so I looked for employment in plain old administrative positions. I first took a long term temp position as office manager for an LNG pipeline feasibility study. I was with it for almost two years before they shelved it. Fortunately, they'd given me enough notice for me to put applications out, one of which led to my current career with the Federal Aviation Administration. So, I got to work around pilots and aircraft again to some degree. I started in Flight Standards but moved to Air Traffic more than eight years ago.

    So it's not something I always planned to do but I like working in the interest of public safety, it has good benefits, and it pays for the toys of my passions. So yeah, "Other".
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  13. #13
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    Being in the right place at the right time.
    My previous career wasn't paying, and I ended up at the Employment Office looking for something else.
    Turns out they had one slot left for funding retraining. They paid $8000 for me to go to Computer Programming Business College.
    That was 26 years ago.

  14. #14
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    Indoors with no heavy lifting.
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    I aced math all through high school, figured I'd be a high school math teacher. Got the credential, but no, I didn't really get into the teaching so much; took a summer job with a legal information management firm, enjoyed that for a while, until I was fired, wrongfully I might add, but never pursued the lawsuit; then I was a closed-caption editor for several years, then quit and moved to the Wild West and finally got a very enjoyable job as a legal assistant, now specializing in plaintiff civil rights litigation, police misconduct, etc. So I guess that's "other."
    Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    "Always wanted to" is the closest. I've 'always' been interested in science, at least as far back as grade school. A very good chemistry teacher in high school contributed greatly to my picking chemistry, and a a couple of very good professors in college kept me on that path. I was actually kind of doubting chemistry after freshman chemistry, it seemed like it was already all done. Then I had Prof. Berringer for Organic, who spoke about his own research, and about his own adventures, and thinks wrong in the textbooks, and got me interested again. Prof. Banks got me particularly interested in inorganic, solid-state chemistry.

    I suspect, however, that I might have also enjoyed a career in archaeology or something similar, or geology/planetary science, if I had been more familiar with them.
    My story is very similar. Always interested in science. Especially natural science. I was thinking of majoring in biology. But that didn't seem to offer a career path without further schooling so I started in Electrical Engineering then switched to Mechanical as a Sophomore. In my senior year they renamed the department "Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering." I spent about half my career in each.

    Unlike some here, I did NOT have a good aptitude for math*. In fact, I struggled with it all the way through school. I could have had MUCH higher grades if I'd majored in History or some such. But probably not a career.

    *As opposed to doing mental arithmetic tricks, something I'm pretty good at.
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  17. #17
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    Debt, and a desire not to have it any more.

    Hence, the discontent - my post-grad qualifications are in astronomy, my career uses those skills almost entirely not at all.

  18. #18
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    I recently wrote about this for a professor at school. The essay was called "You've Always Been Blind". I had some wonderful teachers along the way to becoming one myself. The woman who said that to me was, in fact, a blind high school Spanish teacher. At the time, I had no idea what she meant and really didn't appreciate the criticism.

    Now that I am in her very profession, it seems almost prophetic.
    Solfe

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    ... I suspect, however, that I might have also enjoyed a career in ...
    I would really, really like to teach high school history. Really.

    Quote Originally Posted by gzhpcu View Post
    ... My Dad suggested electrical engineering. ...
    The younger of my step-brothers tried EE. Too hard. So he tried MechE. Nope. He finally got his degree in Civil Engr, went to work for the Corps of Engineers, and had several projects at NASA facilities.
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  20. #20
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    I guess "always wanted to do it" comes closest. But after I started working, it was more like a random walk than any sort of progression and I have ended up doing all sorts of different jobs in the same industry (electronics) in startups, small companies and multi-nationals. And then ended up as a writer, which is not something I would have ever considered.

  21. #21
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    Other. I stumbled through a variety of jobs and sectors in my teens and early twenties until I had the chance to go to university at 28 studying history and acquiring an honours degree. As there is no money in history I then did a law degree and have been moderately successful with a fairly interesting job I'm quite good at. I'm not sure if that qualifies as a career but when I retire from it in a couple of years I'm going back to uni to do a PhD in history. I always describe myself as a historian since I still write and publish and the legal work is just my day job.

  22. #22
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    Interesting how many "other", and how few from a factual book / TV programme / film.
    This thread was actually inspired by a post on another thread, about a TV programme potentially inspiring a career choice. While I often read about this with regard to popular fiction (people saying that Star Trek is the reason they went into aerospace engineering, or universities noting a spike in applications for forensic pathology courses after some TV series or other aired), I've always been slightly doubtful about the ponderous way in which some factual TV producers (for instance, working for the BBC) draw a mantle of responsibility around their shoulders, assuring us that they need to work hard to capture the minds and enthusiasms of young people. As if jazzing up a one-hour segment with tempting graphics and music is going to make a Young Person cry out - "That's it! I want to be a molecular biologist!"

    Grant Hutchison

  23. #23
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    Other. I barely graduated high school and thought that there was no way I could handle higher ed. In my early 30's, I was just looking on the internet to win a Star Wars argument (not the parsec one). I found some guy, what's his face; the Bad Astronomer, blogging about the parsec argument. I read the blog, and then another one, and then another one. When I was bored, I started searching for this guy. I thought "space stuff" was cool when I was a kid, I liked to watch Cosmos with my grandfather but I certainly had no interest in pursuing a career in the field--that was for smart people. When I eventually stumbled across the BAUT forum, someone recommended some books and I couldn't get enough of them. Still, it was a pet interest. When I needed to find a job, I went for short-length certifications, first CNA, then RMA, and I was planning on going to become a PA, but I didn't really like working in the medical field as much as I thought I would. While I was in my crisis, I attended An Evening with Phil Plait and Hakeem Olusayi. There were two moments during that talk that really resonated with me; Hakeem Olusayi couldn't remember the name of an asteroid and Phil Plait was talking about researching for a talk and it dawned on me that these guys don't just walk around knowing everything. I couldn't stop talking about it. My husband pointed out that I had planned on going back to school when he graduated and I was considering changing fields, why not apply to the Astronomy and Astrophysics program at FIT? It took another year to get the courage to do it but I finally applied and was accepted, so here I am, old enough to have birthed most of the kids in my class and I will probably be graduating with my current classmate's children.
    Last edited by closetgeek; 2018-Feb-06 at 02:49 PM.

  24. #24
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    A bit of everything.

    -My body. If you've ever seen me, you'd have guessed my career is what it is thanks to my body. But not in the way you think. I wanted to be F16 pilot, but my legs were too long and my eyes too bad. So I wanted to become Chinook pilot. Eyes got too bad for that too.

    -Terrorism. I wanted to become airliner pilot, so I requested the information package of the commercial flight school. Received it on september 12th, 2001.

    -Attitude. I couldn't be bothered to study some general field, so I became aerospace engineer with a speciality in simulation.

    -Luck. I sollicited for a soil related job in dredging, but didn't get it because I knew nothing about soil. The HR guy in the room remembered they were looking for someone who knew about simulation though. Welcome to my career. I aced the job exam on soils 3 months later by the way.

    So now I'm into dredging simulation and automation.

  25. #25
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    I joined the US Navy in 1973, wanting to be a navy diver. After completing boot camp, the navy informed me that I didn't really have what it takes to be a diver but my test scores suggested that I would be perfect for the nuclear power program, which incidentally required another two years on my enlistment. So, a bait and switch.

    Six years later, I left the navy and found myself well qualified to work in the civilian nuclear power industry, which became my career.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by closetgeek View Post
    Other. I barely graduated high school and thought that there was no way I could handle higher ed. In my early 30's, I was just looking on the internet to win a Star Wars argument (not the parsec one). I found some guy, what's his face; the Bad Astronomer, blogging about the parsec argument. I read the blog, and then another one, and then another one. When I was bored, I started searching for this guy. I thought "space stuff" was cool when I was a kid, I liked to watch Cosmos with my grandfather but I certainly had no interest in pursuing a career in the field--that was for smart people. When I eventually stumbled across the BAUT forum, someone recommended some books and I couldn't get enough of them. Still, it was a pet interest. When I needed to find a job, I went for short-length certifications, first CNA, then RMA, and I was planning on going to become a PA, but I didn't really like working in the medical field as much as I thought I would. While I was in my crisis, I attended An Evening with Phil Plait and Hakeem Olusayi. There were two moments during that talk that really resonated with me; Hakeem Olusayi couldn't remember the name of an asteroid and Phil Plait was talking about researching for a talk and it dawned on me that these guys don't just walk around knowing everything. I couldn't stop talking about it. My husband pointed out that I had planned on going back to school when he graduated and I was considering changing fields, why not apply to the Astronomy and Astrophysics program at FIT? It took another year to get the courage to do it but I finally applied and was accepted, so here I am, old enough to have birthed most of the kids in my class and I will probably be graduating with my current classmate's children.
    Astronomy is full of odd pathways.

    Eugene Shoemaker and David Levy 2.3 thirds of the team who found the famous comet that hit Jupiter 1994. Eugene Shoemaker was a geologist who thought the craters were formed from collisions in 50's-60's and was slated to be on Apollo but had a heart problem so couldn't go. David Levy who studied english at Acadia In Nova Scotia.

    At a nearby university the observatory director has a degree in computer science and got a job in the astrophysics department, He is one of the few Canadians to find a super nova and p knows more about building scopes and observing then most of the Phds there.Plus remember the 8 year old that found a super nova, the image was taken at his personal observatory.
    ...I'm still free, you can't take the sky from me.
    You cannot run away from the truth, the world is not big enough. DI Jack Frost
    Don't Panic THGTTG
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    http://davidsuniverse.wordpress.com/

  27. #27
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    The Economy.

    I was hoping to be a science teacher, editor or writer. However, the one (1) computer programming course I'd taken plus independent programming work as a grad student turned out to be the most saleable skill I had in those Jimmy Carter years. Computers were still rather exotic. Every time i told an employer or employment agent that I wanted to move on to something else, they'd say "Nawwww! Maybe later, but you're too valuable as a programmer." So, I was off and running as a data processing person, forevermore as it turned out.
    Last edited by DonM435; 2018-Feb-07 at 02:25 PM.

  28. #28
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    "Always wanted to do it".

    I was enthusiastic about a lot of things when I was a kid. I was the kid who was always trying to figure out how stuff works. I loved exploring the forests and mountains around my home town. I had a fascination with infrastructure projects such as hydroelectric dams or highways. I dreamed of flying airplanes.

    So I earned my private pilot licence the summer after finishing high school, and enrolled at the University of BC in the program leading to a degree in forest management (not knowing I'd spend a year as an exchange student on the other side of the country).

    My career in forestry let me do a lot of those things I'd liked as a kid. I was able to use my plane as part of one job I had, to get in and out of remote camps and worksites. I spent years in the woods engineering logging systems and road networks, but also working on basic research problems in silviculture. The time I spent in the sawmilling sector was made more interesting by being able to apply formal research methods to production problems, and that experience in turn helped me in later research programs.

    What I didn't appreciate when I started my career was how many things were interconnected and how experience in one area could be the entry point to another fascinating area elsewhere.

    I have a fuzzy recollection of the aptitude testing and career counselling that was offered when I was in high school, but I'm quite certain that their recommendations were off the mark.

  29. #29
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    By odd synchronicity I came across this line from Adam Smith, in The Wealth of Nations (1776).
    The contempt of risk and the presumptuous hope of success are in no period of life more active than at the age at which young people choose their professions.
    Grant Hutchison

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    My career was as a Public (Civil) Servant. I fell into it after high school when I worked for a while in basically labouring jobs. Eventually I took the Public Service examinations and was placed onto a pending list. After about 6 months I was called in for an interview and given the choice of 4 or 5 Departments. Customs & Excise (as it was then called) sounded the most interesting so I chose it - and spent 37 years there.

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