‘What do you want to do after your PhD?’
Those words that fill a final year PhD student with dread, panic and worry!
When I’ve been asked this question I have always said that I will probably stay in research. Why? Because I love it! I love being able to make world first discoveries no matter how niche my research is or how frustrating the science world can get.
But is this a safe option?
I also love this new world that I’ve jumped into – the science communication world. I started this blog and now trying out social media more and other methods like Youtube or zines to share my research, the life of a scientist and science generally.
I’ve always thought about this as a hobby, or something that might help me grow in my research career. But this weekend I’ve actually thought could this be a full time career for me?
I never considered that it could be a career for me because a) I didn’t know what life as a science communicator involved and b) I didn’t know if I had the skills or ability to do it. But this weekend I got a huge confidence boost. One of my new scicomm friends Heidi included me in her latest blog post – 6 science communicators that I’m learning from – alongisde some other sci-commers who are absolutely slaying what they do! I was so overwhelmed to be included amongst these other names. This coupled with me passing the 3000 follower mark on Instagram – (yes! 3000! How crazy!? Thanks to each and every one of you who wants to share my science adventures) – yesterday had me feeling the happiest I had in a long while!
But it got me thinking. Am I actually a good science communicator? Is what I’m sharing in blogs and social media posts actually being well received? I love sharing science and really don’t want to give it up! So, could I actually do it full time? Do I even want to do it full time?
I am heading into that final year of my PhD where I ultimately will have to make that decision: what am I going to do once I’ve finished and I actually have to leave education! Do I stay in research and continue communicating my research and lab life, or do I leave the bench and move into science communication? Do I take the safe option or more of a risk?
I guess only I can answer that question. At the moment, I still have no idea, but this weekend has given me the confidence to actually properly consider a career in science communication.
I am still learning every day as a science communicator and a scientist. I’m getting more and more opportunities as a science communicator and a scientist. So, I guess I will have to see what I can learn and achieve in this next year before making my decision as there are still so many questions flying around in my head:
What would I actually do?
Is it even a possibility or me?
Will I miss research?
Will I regret not doing it?
Would that mean I have failed as a scientist?
Has anyone else had this dilemma? Has anyone got any advice for switching from the lab bench to the scicomm stage? Or has anyone got some tips on how I can try and find out if a career in science communication is for me before I cross that bridge?
For now, I will continue to love the research that I’m doing and I will continue to share my research and life as a scientist with everyone – because I love doing both! But I’m inspired!