One of the hardest parts of being a graduate student or postdoctoral researcher is knowing that your position
is temporary. No matter how good you are at your job (and
“graduate student” is a job!), you are always worried about
where you are going to go next. However, in order to find your
next job, you have to determine what you want to do, and that’s
not always easy.
As a grad student or postdoc researcher, you spend your
days (and maybe some nights and weekends) doing a wide va-
riety of tasks. Over the course of a day, week, or month, you do
many different things—some you enjoy, some you’re really good
at, and some you dread. So, is there a way you can use what
you’re already doing to inform your decision about to where to
go next? It turns out there is. Thinking about how you spend
your time and how you feel about your various tasks can point
you toward your next career.
One great way to start making sense of your time and tasks
is by collecting the data. For a few weeks, write down everything
you do, how long you spend doing it, how it turns out, and how
you feel about it. You can create a spreadsheet, download a time
tracking app for your smartphone, or use an old-fashioned pencil and paper—just find a system that you will use.
8FEATURE l CAREER
Where Do I
Go From Here?
Lisa M. Balbes, Ph.D., freelance technical writer and editor