Dear Naive UnderGrad (or NUG),
You need to get out there. And by out there I don’t mean to the nearest club. I’m talking about going for that meeting with Industry people your school is hosting, or popping by the completely not related to your field open lecture you have been emailed about. Seriously, go there. Go to all these events and more because they will help you figure out the kind of person and scientist you want to be. Do you enjoy the pure thrill of learning about a completely new field? Do you think the lab isn’t the place for you? Want to branch out to the industry or thinking of getting a business degree after your Bachelors? 8 out 10 times the people in these gatherings including your peers will have something to say that can help you or show you the light at the end of the tunnel. Or a different tunnel altogether.
Sure neither they nor I can tell you how to live your life in both professional and personal aspects. But here’s what I am going to tell you that I came to realise recently. These talks? They don’t cost you anything. Nothing, not even the time you sit there. All you have to do is listen. Listen to the RnD head of a giant plantation company talk about robotics and labour. Listen to the cancer researcher talking about how she had a stroke of luck and found the marker for her type of cancer. Listen to the mechanical engineer who hung his lab coat and is here to tell you that you will always have that option. Listen to the organizers of the events telling you the difference between knocking on the employers door and bulldozing through that door. Just listen. And then ask the questions.
Go. Listen. Ask.
Sure, some of your peers will call you a nerd or something equally asinine or perhaps outright label these events as a waste of time. But dear NUG, you are the only one capable of deciding what’s a waste of time and what isn’t. And while you are at it, pack up the idea of ‘coolness’ and throw it in the Atlantic (or the nearest body of water) with enough stones that it doesn’t float back up. There is NO set way of being cool (unless we are talking about the fridge temperature). Just go out there and do your thing.
Bear hugs from an ex-NUG.