I recently proceeded to have a cup of tea with one of my friends at the cafeteria, trying to make sense of how to best approach the near future.
My friend and I have opposing opinions on how to approach the future. He is of the opinion that one should pursue any opportunity that comes your way, with I being of the opinion that you should choose a path and commit yourself to that particular path. It is a debate that runs for about 45 minutes until another friend joins us and shares with us her opinion regarding how to explore future opportunities.
“What you are currently doing will greatly affect the next opportunity that you get. People are nowadays looking for relevant experience and if you were interested in oncology but working in pediatrics for three years, it would be harder to pick you over a person that has been in oncology for one year.” In other words, despite opportunities being relatively scarce, it wise to explore opportunities that lead you in the direction of career interest and not just taking up any opportunity that comes your way.
“I have done a lot about molecular biology, but so far, I have developed an interest in immunology. I could apply and get an opportunity in molecular biology, but I would be dissatisfied for the one year doing molecular biology work.” What this friend is saying is that they would rather get an opportunity for immunology, which is their line of interest, than molecular biology, which despite being qualified for, is not an area they are passionate about.
“Right now I want a Ph.D., but if I got an opportunity in a pharmaceutical company while looking for a Ph.D., I would not downplay it just because I want a Ph.D.”
“But you need to make sure that the experience that you are gaining is actually leading you to the desired career path. Recruiters nowadays keep asking for relevant experience and not just any experience.”
On mentorship, this was the highlight:
“You have to approach mentorship from a realistic point of view. They may be willing to help and support you get to the next level, but your future is your responsibility. It is not the responsibility of your mentor. Don’t pressure them. Don’t make it as though your future is up to them. Appreciate the much they do to help you transition to the next step. Any human willing to see you do well would be satisfied to know that they played their part in contributing to your success. Be grateful when you have a mentor to guide you.”