Finding Meaningful Work: Career Advice for Young Scientists

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I am 23 right now and I was scouring the internet to decide on what to do next. I wanted to be a physicist for all my life but at this time that doesn't seem feasible to me at this time. I haven't been taking all that good care of my health recently and I want to never repeat that mistake again, so I am looking for something meaningful which pays well.

Physicists have a very high meaningfulness rating, but what I want to do right now, a career in finance seems to have a low-medium meaningfulness rating. I want to earn money, but at the same time I want to find something meaningful. What should I do? MBA seems to be the only plan my parents are behind as know it will lead to some money at least and money should be my top priority right now, but I know I will be devastated if I am working in some meaningless bullshit jobs. Any career advice would be helpful!

PS: This might not be the best community to ask this question, but This community is filled with accomplished men older than myself, I am at the right place. I like this herd and I feel somewhat more comfortable here. Thank you for your help.

Edit: This is a ME problem and it's somewhat personal, I am not sure if someone can answer these questions because obviously they are deeply personal and different, but what perspective/outlook should I have towards my possible career paths?

Is it right to think of job as something which will bring me satisfaction or should I look in other places like family, friends or pets to bring meaning for to my life? Or should I be trying to find meaning within and try to find satisfaction in whatever I do (so that other things don't affect me?) Is it even possible? How do you find meaning in life??? You must have seen people struggle with their lives and identity, you must have heard regrets of pretty successful people yourself (including you and your colleagues), what can you tell me from your life experience and that of others?

I am finding this data from Career Explorer and I think most of the ratings calculated are from self-reported data. Apparently the clergy seem to have the highest satisfaction ratings of all followed by healthcare/education professions.
https://www.careerexplorer.com/careers/physicist/satisfaction/
 
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  • #2
Slimy0233 said:
I am 23 right now and I was scouring the internet to decide on what to do next. I wanted to be a physicist for all my life but at this time that doesn't seem feasible to me at this time. I haven't been taking all that good care of my health recently and I want to never repeat that mistake again, so I am looking for something meaningful which pays well.

Physicists have a very high meaningfulness rating, but what I want to do right now, a career in finance seems to have a low-medium meaningfulness rating. I want to earn money, but at the same time I want to find something meaningful. What should I do? MBA seems to be the only plan my parents are behind as know it will lead to some money at least and money should be my top priority right now, but I know I will be devastated if I am working in some meaningless bullshit jobs. Any career advice would be helpful!

PS: This might not be the best community to ask this question, but I like this herd and I feel somewhat more comfortable here. Thank you for your help.
Most physicists do not have meaningful careers. In fact, most people do not have meaningful careers. Given this, find something that you like and strive to put meaning to it, or find something that pays so you can put meaning to other parts of your life.
 
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  • #3
Frabjous said:
Most physicists do not have meaningful careers. In fact, most people do not have meaningful careers. Given this, find something that you like and strive to put meaning to it, or find something that pays so you can put meaning to other parts of your life.

Sir, I don't want to argumentative and I know you are trying to guide me the best you can, but, I am finding this data from Career Explorer and I think most of the ratings calculated are from self-reported data. Everything finance related is either in the low or mid 2.0s, whereas for Physicists that seem to be in low-high 3.0s. I know I don't want to do Physics for sure, but I am confused abt the MBA.
Apparently the clergy seem to have the highest satisfaction ratings of all followed by healthcare professions.
https://www.careerexplorer.com/careers/physicist/satisfaction/

Now, I am not sure if I want to go into an MBA and then find something meaningful or go into a degree which actually has a greater chance of bringing meaning to my life.
Or am I looking at the wrong thing to gain meaning in my life? Should I be focusing on family, friends & community etc? Ugh... I am sorry, I am somewhat lost and I think I need to read some books now :')

PS: This sounds like a ME problem and I should have included this in the question, I am sorry for bringing this up, I think I am asking the wrong questions, although one can't specifically answer these questions, I am wondering if I am having the right perspective towards things like these.
 
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  • #4
Slimy0233 said:
Sir, I don't want to argumentative and I know you are trying to guide me the best you can, but, I am finding this data from Career Explorer and I think most of the ratings calculated are from self-reported data. Everything finance related is either in the low or mid 2.0s, whereas for Physicists that seem to be in low-high 3.0s. I know I don't want to do Physics for sure, but I am confused abt the MBA.
Apparently the clergy seem to have the highest satisfaction ratings of all followed by healthcare professions.
https://www.careerexplorer.com/careers/physicist/satisfaction/

Now, I am not sure if I want to go into an MBA and then find something meaningful or go into a degree which actually has a greater chance of bringing meaning to my life.
Or am I looking at the wrong thing to gain meaning in my life? Should I be focusing on family, friends & community etc? Ugh... I am sorry, I am somewhat lost and I think I need to read some books now :')

PS: This sounds like a ME problem, I am sorry for bringing this up, I think I am asking the wrong questions, although one can't specifically answer these questions, I am wondering if I am having the right perspective towards things like these.
Satisfaction is not just the job, but also how much it meshes with you personally; i.e., I am not sure if it is a useful metric.
I would argue that clergy, healthcare and physics have a significant amount of weeding out, i.e., you are not going to become one unless it also fits your personality. Given this, the satisfaction rating will be higher than for careers with less weeding out.
 
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  • #5
Slimy0233 said:
so I am looking for something meaningful which pays well.
Have you looked into the trades yet? (Electrician, Carpenter, Plumber, etc.) If you enjoy building things with your hands, and enjoy taking pride in the final result, the trades can be a rewarding career. You would typically start out at the journeyman level, and over the years work your way up to supervisor and even General Contractor. I enjoy working with my hands, and definitely take pride in the final product being well built and lasting many years for the folks who are using what I've helped to build.

Alternately, have you considered the health care field at all? Do you have any experiences helping people who are having injury or illness issues? You can gain some experience by volunteering with local agencies who provide basic medical care. You may find that you enjoy the patient contacts, and enjoy being able to help folks who are going through a difficult time in their lives.

I work full-time as an EE in high-tech, but I've worked part time in EMS for almost 20 years, and I really enjoy the patient contacts. It's not for everybody, but if you find you do enjoy helping folks medically, there are a number of potential career paths you can pursue. I will say that one of the key things in medical care is being able to memorize a large amount of information and be able to recall it when needed. I've never been all that great at memorizing things, but I worked at it during my EMT classes and became much better at it. There are techniques that can help you with that aspect of your medical education.
 
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You don't need a meaningful job, and you need to get out of school. Based on a year of your postings here, I am extremely skeptical of "one more degree and that's it".

You've said that your parents have been supporting you, but that they may stop. Good. It's time for you to start adulting.

After a year or so of working, you will have a lot better perspective of what you want your next step to be, and if you are frugal, will have some resources set aside to help you make that next step.
 
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  • #7
Slimy0233 said:
was scouring the internet to decide on what to do next.
Waste of your time.
Slimy0233 said:
Is it right to think of job as something which will bring me satisfaction
It can, but that depends on you.

At this stage of your life, and given your situation, my advice is to get the first job that you can find. Hold that job for a year, and spend that year thinking about yourself. Are you a people person, or a technical person? Do you like responsibility, or do you prefer working for somebody who takes the responsibility? Is the prestige of a job important to you? The money? The satisfaction of accomplishing a task? All jobs are some combination of responsibility, people, technical, location, hours, money, and other factors. Which of those are more important to you?

This is called a self evaluation, and doing it right will take several months to a year or even longer. I have never seen an internet site* that will walk you through a self evaluation. That is something that you need to do for yourself.

There is no such thing as the perfect job, but there is a job that you can find rewarding. You are the only person that can find it.

* The Jesuits still practice the Spiritual Exercises of Loyola (look it up). It's a self evaluation for people, typically Jesuit priests, who want to examine their relationship with their religion. Note that it's a four week retreat, with a guide. And is not a full self evaluation.
 
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  • #8
berkeman said:
Have you looked into the trades yet? (Electrician, Carpenter, Plumber, etc.) If you enjoy building things with your hands, and enjoy taking pride in the final result, the trades can be a rewarding career. You would typically start out at the journeyman level, and over the years work your way up to supervisor and even General Contractor. I enjoy working with my hands, and definitely take pride in the final product being well built and lasting many years for the folks who are using what I've helped to build.
That's definitely meaningful, but I don't think that's meaningful for me in the same way. Moreover in India these types of trades are looked down upon and paid pretty less (paid less part being a deal-breaker for me)

I have an interesting story though, I have this friend who gave up his father's profession of being a carpenter for working as a salesman in a company which pays him half what he would have made as a carpenter. I won't have done that but he seems to be happy.
edit: He did it because a suit and tie can go a long way in finding a bride in India and manual work is looked down upon. You can be making 2.5M Rupees in a hotel working hard and it still would not be given the respect it deserves. (I just found this interesting)

But, I think doing something with your own hand at least as a recreational activity is undoubtedly meaningful and I thank you for that suggestion.

berkeman said:
I work full-time as an EE in high-tech, but I've worked part time in EMS for almost 20 years, and I really enjoy the patient contacts. It's not for everybody, but if you find you do enjoy helping folks medically, there are a number of potential career paths you can pursue. I will say that one of the key things in medical care is being able to memorize a large amount of information and be able to recall it when needed. I've never been all that great at memorizing things, but I worked at it during my EMT classes and became much better at it. There are techniques that can help you with that aspect of your medical education.
Although I find it meaningful, I doubt if I will make much money in it, especially in India. But thank you very much for your suggestions!
 
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  • #9
Vanadium 50 said:
You don't need a meaningful job, and you need to get out of school. Based on a year of your postings here, I am extremely skeptical of "one more degree and that's it".
Yes sir! You are right abt that, but I don't have much of a value with a degree I have now, I will paid wages which are so low that it's comedic in itself. But I do need work experience for an MBA and I am certainly getting a job before I go for an MBA, so, that's the route I am taking right now, but trust me, the jobs I am getting right now are nothing to be envious of. I understand your point sir, but I don't chasing a goal which will never come to fruition (like I was doing with Physics)

So yes, I would have to work for at least an year before I get a job somewhere, so, that is taken care of tbh....
 
  • #10
jrmichler said:
At this stage of your life, and given your situation, my advice is to get the first job that you can find. Hold that job for a year, and spend that year thinking about yourself.
Roger that Sir! I actually am looking for a job right now and even for an MBA I would need some experience, so that won't be a problem.

I must say your answer seems to be the best course of action for me right now. Find a job and evaluate yourself, that's excellent. Thank you Sir!
 
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  • #11
Frabjous said:
Satisfaction is not just the job, but also how much it meshes with you personally; i.e., I am not sure if it is a useful metric.
I would argue that clergy, healthcare and physics have a significant amount of weeding out, i.e., you are not going to become one unless it also fits your personality. Given this, the satisfaction rating will be higher than for careers with less weeding out.
I must say the weeding out 'principle' explains a lot (or at least hints at what one should consider while thinking abt)

Thank you very much for your help!
 
  • #12
Slimy0233 said:
I don't want to argumentative
And yet....

Some jobs aren't prestigious enough for you. Some don't pay well enough. Some aren't "meaningful" enough, whatever that is. You seem to have found many reasons not to go out and find a job.

Let me ask you this. Suppose your parents called you in and said "Enough is enough. You are no longer a child, so you need to support yourself, starting right now." What would you do? And once you answer that question, the next one is "what are you waiting for?"
 
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  • #13
Vanadium 50 said:
And yet....
It is at this point that I realized I am asking the wrong question and I changed my questions to something somewhat abstract
i.e., What mindset/outlook should I have while getting a job? Am I thinking about this the right way? Should I even be looking for satisfaction in jobs or should I look for it elsewhere? etc.
But, it was my fault, I was ignorant about what I wanted and I could not express myself well enough.
Vanadium 50 said:
Some jobs aren't prestigious enough for you. Some don't pay well enough.
I respect Mr. Berkeman even before he suggested me those jobs, but certainly for that. But there is a cultural and regional difference here which he could not known. Indian market is oversaturated with electricians, plumbers and carpenters (and tons and tons of engineers), so although his suggestions are certainly meaningful, it's not in demand as much as they are in the West and they don't pay you anywhere near what you get paid in the west.
But, I can't blame this on anyone but me again. Anyone in the west can't answer a particular question like this, which is why I changed it to something abstract.

Vanadium 50 said:
You seem to have found many reasons not to go out and find a job.
Sir, I understand why you would think that, but trust me life ain't pretty without disposable income, I have been applying to severely meaningless jobs like telemarketing (which is the textbook a Bullshit Job) just so I can get some income while I study for my MBA exam. So, I am not guilty of this.

No matter how harsh you are, I actually appreciate it when you comment. Thank you for taking the time.
 
  • #14
Slimy0233 said:
I am 23 right now and I was scouring the internet to decide on what to do next. I wanted to be a physicist for all my life but at this time that doesn't seem feasible to me at this time. I haven't been taking all that good care of my health recently and I want to never repeat that mistake again, so I am looking for something meaningful which pays well.
For your own health & wellness, attend to those immediate needs first. Get those stable. Once those are settled, if you want a meaningful job which pays bills, that could be medical services, emergency first-responder positions, and the training which prepares those employment positions.

( I did not yet read the rest of that first post.)
 
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  • #15
Slimy0233 said:
and money should be my top priority right now, but I know I will be devastated if I am working in some meaningless figuratively less-worthy-than-livestock-animal-feces jobs. Any career advice would be helpful!

Could you consider, get training for the work of emergency medical technician? It should pay reasonably well, and certainly not worthless.(I gave a minor edit to that quote of your post.)
 
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  • #16
symbolipoint said:
Could you consider, get training for the work of emergency medical technician? It should pay reasonably well, and certainly not worthless.(I gave a minor edit to that quote of your post.)
That is a good option. Although at this point I do not want more education 1 year later, maybe that would be a feasible option!

I have to realize sometime soon that I can't have everything and just do what I can to best live my life, this suggestion has provided me with another meaningful thing! Thank you!
 

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