One of those Career Moments – My meeting with a National Academy of Science Member

Every once in a while its nice in your career to have a good day. I recently experienced such a day.

I work relatively hard and although my business card says Systems Engineer I am a Physicist. That’s what I went to graduate school for, that’s what my Doctorial Degree is in, and that is what I claim as my real profession.

It is a challenging field that not a whole ton of people really understand. Sure everyone says oh Physics wow that’s hard, or that’s irrelevant, whatever the answer they give is usually there is some quick answer. I assure you physics is still relevant as an area of research. It is a field that can cause amazing differences in our everyday lives in ways most people don’t realize. This is usually true even after some researcher invents something that actually does change your life. The Physicst behind it is often the unsung hero. I’m fine with that.

Recently, however, it is tough to tell even if those I work for care or notice the contributions I attempt to make. Sometimes it is difficult to tell if other scientists even view the work you do as worthwhile. (Its a big field, lots of contibutors and worse lots of big mouths). But I had a meeting this week with a faculty member who is a member of the national academy of sciences. He is a guy who has been one of the early contributors to Photonic Crystals. If you aren’t sure what that is, it is one of those fields that can fundamentally alter our lives, trust me, its a big deal.

While in that meeting I asked for some career advice and he told me that the position I was considering while I found it interesting was far beneath me. He actually said that he viewed me as a peer and I’d be insane not to persue something greater than the position I was considering, in fact greater than the position I am in. I haven’t recieved such a compliment in a very long time and it has honestly renewed my interest in a some research I was starting to view as unimportant.

Just my comment for the day. If anyone finds this useful the lesson learned here is every once in a while its nice to sit down with someone and ask career advice. Someone you trust, someone you look up to. Very highly recommended activity once a year or so.

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