So long story short, I didn’t go to Japan. Those of you who see me still lurking around already know this. They offered me the job (my first job offer!), and they even said the offer was not set in stone, and that I could make a counter-offer, i.e. ask for more money. But at that point, I had already made up my mind that this was not what I wanted. There were definitely perks, but the bottom-line was, the job was too far away. Too far away from science. Too far away from Europe. Too far away from home. Too far away from everything. And of course, the voices in my head pointed out all the obvious things: It’s just temporary, you don’t have to stay there forever, you get paid to travel and give talks, this is an amazing opportunity. And of course: you don’t have a job, you just got offered one, with a good salary and a fancy title, so just take it. If you were really brave and adventurous you’d take it. The voices in my head can get quite mean.
But I told them to zip it. I didn’t want to take a job because I needed a job, or because it had a fancy title, or because I needed to prove to someone (mostly myself?) that I was brave and adventurous. Or even because I got to travel or give talks. I wanted to take a job because I genuinely wanted to do the job. I felt like I owed it to myself: seriously, I have been studying for 10 years! 10 whole years! The least I can do at the end of it all is get a job I actually enjoy and want to do.
So it was back to the job-hunt for me. This time, I decided to change my strategy a little. I stopped sending in applications right and left. The Japan-experience taught me a few things: 1) that I wanted a job in science (if not in academia or research, then something where I got to think, talk, read, plan projects, or write about science), and 2) that I wanted a job in Europe. Preferably in a capital city. Or at least one of those not-capital-but-still-awesome cities that had a lot going on.
And the first thing I did, which in retrospect was probably my second-best decision of the new year (the first being NOT to go to Japan), was to book an appointment with the careers advisory services in college.
Coming up next: What I learned in that appointment and how it changed my life. Stay tuned.