Why Alternative Science Careers?

I promised I’ll write about the different science careers. But you must have wondered why alternative, and what brought the need for alternative careers! I have a story to feed your wondering mind — a long, cultural story!

But I’ll cut it short for you! As with many other Indian parents, mine too wished I would pursue one of the famous “professional courses” — as we call them in India — namely, engineering or medicine. This was the craze in my time! It seems it didn’t fade much, as a study by the HSBC finds, even after careers in Information Technology have taken them over!

Snapshot from HSBC Study Report “The Value of Education: Learning For Life” PDF here!

Anyway, my parents wanted me to get a seat based on my merit, as they were in the so-called “lower middle class”. Oh, and pocketing a merit seat fuels their fame too! But what defines merit in India is a different question: whether it’s your marks, intelligence, or how bulged is your wallet. And who defines it, is the next. You can find the answers to these pressing questions from your Indian friends over praising their curries.

For reasons that I couldn’t have my control on, I worked my bacon off to secure a seat in one of those recently mushroomed colleges in India. Sigh. I didn’t get the seat (we are not talking about parliamentary assembly here!). I chose a BSc course in a private college and continued to get an MSc in another. Both in biology!

My parents were left in confusion, what would I become with these degrees. My wish then was to pursue either of the career — research or teaching. I liked both. I still do. But for the thrill of it I chose research!

I went to a university with a scholarship, one that was very tantalising then, especially after the amount of money that the institutions milked from my parents’ thin pockets. While pursuing another master level course, again related to Biology, I found a heavenly gateway at my arm’s length — or the one that looked like heaven to me. (I don’t believe in heaven or hell, anymore, for the record!)

Bingo started Vijay‘s journey into the world of scientific research, from there.

During those nearly four arduous years I discovered, “it was only my love on science that brought me here and kept me this long.” Because, I did not enjoy the form of science that I was learning and practicing then.

Poetic and Dreamy / Image Credit: Humorcials

My nature is quite poetic and dreamy! I enjoy reading and have a craze to communicate what I read in forms that come to me naturally — discussion with others and writing. That’s when I realised I would be much happier expressing my love of science through catering my knowledge as oral and written delights. My nature and “experience” in these, both in Tamil, my mother tongue, and in English fuelled my passion.

So began my alternative career in science — science writing!

I’m happy about my choice, finally! Truly and sincerely! Until I spoke with my parents the last time, they’re happy too. They can’t be pulled out of their comfort zone, mind you! Because, like any other parent in India, mine too believe, “being successful in career” is the best way to reach salvation! (Again for the record, I don’t believe in salvation anymore!)

But I was not satisfied yet (tongue-in-cheek), as I have many other interests, where I thought science could fit snuggly! That’s when I started my search and so wrote down whatever I discovered in that long list.

Coming up next: about my journey and discoveries in the first alternative career in my list — science writing! Stay Tuned!

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