Your DayDream Job

Oct 07 2010 Published by under Academia

LabSpaces is having another topic of the week/month/they just do this stuff sometimes, and invited other networks to participate! Sci is pleased at cross-network collaboration, and also liked this topic which is: What I'd be doing, if I wasn't doing this.

Sci perfers to call it: My DayDream Job, the job you think you'd had or would have if you weren't doing science.

And Sci's got a LOT of them. A LOT. In my grad lab, we used to sit around and shoot the breeze, and we found that asking people what their DayDream Job would be is really a great way to get to know people. It's more than just who they are on the job, it's their underlying interests, hobbies, stuff like that. And also, some of it's super cute and quirky. One post-doc wanted to be a pastry chef (AWESOME), another would have been an artist, another, who knows? Our lists changed from day to day, and often were just funny compilations of "DANGIT, this experiment sucks! I want to be a pastry chef!!!"

But Sci has her own list, both of the Real DayDream jobs (things which are more likely than not), and the Not Real DayDream jobs. Here are mine. What are yours?! Sci wants to know. What would you do if you weren't doing science/medicine/your real job?

The Real Day Dream Jobs: the ones more likely to have happened.

1) A surgeon.

Sci found out pretty early on in her education that she LOVES blood and guts. Srsly. Anatomy is incredibly fascinating to me, and I love seeing where things go, how they are connected, and to watch the whole beautiful system function. It's so stunningly mechanical, and yet so...squishy. And then Sci got into research in college and realized that she has really good, steady hands, and can do surgery for hours when she finally looks up, realizes her iPod playlist is over, and that she missed breakfast and lunch. So it's a pretty good bet I'd have a good time as a surgeon.

2) A professor at a liberal arts college.

And I would wear a Tweed coat with leather elbow patches and it would be AWESOME. Actually, I am in the market for one of these anyway, tailored to fit a girl such as myself. Might have to alter it on my own though. Any ideas?

Sci has always wanted to teach. She has a talent for being entertaining, and who knows, might still end up some day inspiring some kids about science and causing other kids to yell on RateMyProfessor about how I actually expect them to WORK. I could teach SCIENCE! Or, I could teach my other love, and be the awesome tweed wearing professor teaching Symbolic Logic and Wittgenstein. Le sigh...

3) A Science Writer.

Duh. It's something I love enough to do constantly as a hobby, and something I still work to improve. Who knows? Maybe if the funding gods fail to smile...

And now...

The Fun Day Dream Jobs: The ones I probably won't end up in, but which would be totally AWESOME if I did.

1) Coffee Shop/Bookstore Owner

I love coffee. I love books. I love MAKING coffee. Sci spent a large amount of her formative years as a barista at a coffee shop, and did some management as well. I LOVED IT. I loved the smell of the coffee, I loved the morning rush, and I especially loved the people. I miss it now, and some day, maybe post-retirement (after I've made my millions a shill for Big Whatever, obviously), I'll open up a tiny coffee nook with great lattes and wonderful BOOKS.

2) Costumer

Sci loves theater, and she loves being crafty. And she LOVES AWESOME CLOTHING. Clothing that could never in a million years be worn on the street. I am never so wowed as when I see some of the killer period costuming in Shakespeare plays (not just Shakespearean period either), and the time concepts that costumers work with in theater all the time are just AMAZING. In another life, it would have been SO COOL to sew bodices and oddly bustled skirts, to play with exotic cuts and strange color patterns. WOO IT WOULD BE SO FUN YOU GUYS.

So those are my DayDream jobs. What are yours? What do you think you'd likely be doing, and what would you just think was TOTALLY AWESOME?

11 responses so far

  • DrJohn says:

    Chef. And would have, if the coin had come up tails after undergrad (really). Was going to eventually open a restaurant called "The Rose and Fig."

    Trauma surgeon. What I was going to to after undergrad until I bombed my GPA. Hence the coin toss between grad school and culinary school.

    Professional triathlete. Still haven't quite given up on this one...

    Sports scientist/trainer/physiologist. Coming out of grad school, I actually made a couple attempts to get a job with a ProTour team as a team physiologist. In light of the recent rash of EPO and clenbuterol positives, maybe for the best it didn't work out.

    Professions bassist. Or any kind of musician, I really wouldn't care what instrument. Just happen to be best at bass. This was my dream coming out of high school - damn college for getting in the way...

    Guitar luthier. Probably the most realistic of all of the above. Puts me tangentially in the music scene, and lets me indulge my love of creating things. I can actually see myself doing this as a hobby after I retire.

  • Janne says:

    In order of distance from my current gig (computational neuroscience):

    No-strings-attached permanently funded roboticist. No deadlines, no publication pressure, just a decently equipped robotics lab and perhaps a collaborator or two.

    Writer. Before I stumbled on to computers as an interest, most of my time was spent reading and thinking of books. And I still find blogging to be lots of fun, after many years.

    I would almost say photographer, as it's a major hobby, but the reality is that making your hobby your job usually sucks out most of the fun.

    Ramen cook. I like cooking, I like ramen, and I really love the relaxed greasy-spoon atmosphere of a good ramen joint.

  • Katie says:

    Pathologist. If it weren't for the two years spent doing clinical work with live patients and my incredibly lucky fall into a research lab that completely fascinates me every day this may have happened.

    Artist. I was originally a Visual Arts major before switching to Chemistry as an undergrad but I agree with Janne that making your hobby your job isn't always the best choice.

    Record store owner. I would have loved to do this but I'm glad I ended up in research because I'm so busy now that I don't have time to keep my music snobbiness at the level required for a job in a record store. This is a good thing, in my opinion.

  • Ria says:

    My current job is non-tenured faculty in quantitative genetics. In order from least likely to most likely:

    1. Concert pianist. I actually contemplated this path while in high school and practising 2 hours/day (while vastly annoying my siblings...I can't say that that wasn't a major part of the appeal).

    2. Artist. I love to do graphite and charcoal sketches as well as watercolors and calligraphy. Unfortunately, there's not much market for calligraphy or sketches. I was born in the wrong century, I guess.

    3. Product manager. I have l33t organizational skills, and have managed more than $2 million/year in scientific projects and personnel...I think this one might be a fallback if I can't transition to a tenure-track faculty position and something happens to my current funding.

    4. Coffee shop/bakery chef/owner. I love to bake. I've been told on more than one occasion that I missed my calling as a baker, so this might work out (I've also worked as a barista at small euro-style cafes for 6 years while in high school/undergrad). I have a name, concept, decor style, etc already picked out. This is probably going to be my retirement job.

  • Marcus says:

    Classical Musician. I've played my whole life, but I was never as good as music as I was at science. So music is relegated to #1 hobby.

    Lawyer/Judge. Something I've randomly become interested in. It the philosophical or constitutional law sense.

  • Comic book writer. I could've done it, too, if not for my senseless need to have food and a roof over my head. While I was in university Ataraxia Theatre (which was then a print comic) brought in enough money for pizza and a few luxuries, but it wouldn't have been possible to live on it. So after graduation I moved to Korea and became a teacher.

    Alternatively, I could've been a computer programmer. That was my plan right after high school. I studied math for two years at Waterloo before realizing that, as much as I may love programming, I really really really did not want to spend the rest of my life in the software industry. Sometimes I get wistful and wonder how life would've been if I stuck with my original goal... then I speak to friends who currently work in programming and thank Eris for my English degree.

  • becca says:

    I don't know, sci. Having this conversation with labmates can backfire. I found out one of the postdocs in my old lab would be a soldier, and I could never quite see his animal work the same way (NB: he followed all regulations, and the suffering was minimized. I could easily have let my imagination run wild in interpreting his response to the killing).

    I regularly threaten to run away and join the circus. Then I realized how incredibly credentialed they are ( and that it was probably too late for me.
    When I was younger, I wanted to be an artist. That's about the only thing I'd WANT to do as much as science, assuming I could also eat.

  • I've always said that if I won the lottery tomorrow, I would still want to do what I do.

    I would just live waaaaaay better than I do now: live in a nicer place, eat better, etc.
    If I had limitless funding, no time restraints or pressure, and could take (afford) a nice vacation once a year, I would still be doing what I do now. It isn't research that I loathe, it's the inflicted poverty.

    On some days my dream job is getting to be someone who travels just to review awesome destinations/ hotels/ spas.

  • Autistic Lurker says:

    Surgeon. at the anatomy lab 2 and a half years ago, this was pretty much what I ended up learning and doing[1] but it was nearly magic to me. I had very good hands and techniques and was able to perceive really tiny but important parts that the other students weren't able to notice so myself and the other 2 peoples in the team agreed that I would handle the dissection work while they directed which regions I would get to dissect during the given lab day.


    [1] == I had faulty memory due to very severe depression and just wasn't able to learn anything WRT anatomy; that semester, I wasn't even supposed to go to school but then, several doctors, psychologists and coworkers heavily recommended to stay and I caved on but then, it was an utter failure...

  • JD says:

    I could have been a contender...

  • Maggie says:

    I am currently doing the thing that I would be doing if I weren't doing science 🙂

    Was an experimental biophysicist, am now a computer programmer. But my other dream jobs would be:

    1) high school science teacher
    2) world class marathon runner
    3) being a Mom
    4) science writing or policy

    All but #2 will probably be part of my life at some point, one way or another.

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