It’s that time of year again. New graduate students are frantically wandering from lab to lab, trying to figure out where to spend the next 4+ years of their lives. If everything goes well, they will find a research group with a healthy mix of interesting science, supportive peers, and a good mentor. If they make the wrong choice, they will join the ranks of the disgruntled—those unhappy souls whose passion for science has been obliterated and are simply counting the days (or years) until graduation.
Disgruntled graduate students are a pitiful breed. I know, because I was one of them. They dread greeting the first-years. They resent seeing so much fresh-faced optimism. “How dare you have hope for a bright future, when mine has been completely drained out of me?” they ask. It happens for a variety of reasons, but they inevitably end up wondering whether they were cut out for science in the first place. Maybe they start thinking about going to law school instead, or maybe they spend their days dreaming about starting a farm.
This post is for those people. I’m here to tell you there is another option. You’ll kick yourself for not having thought of it sooner:
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