“Find your calling,” Dr. Lefkowitz advised us when he spoke to the Howard Hughes Research Fellows this past Tuesday morning. Whether its in music, math, or oceanography, find that calling and follow it.
If a Nobel laureate ever gives you advise, you should probably take it. But how does one find their calling? How do you know for sure that you are destined for a life of research instead of, say, medicine or, I don’t know, competitive fly fishing? Even Dr. Lefkowitz, himself, admitted that eight weeks in a lab is not nearly long enough to give you a true taste of what a life of research entails. In fact, he described to us how he hated his first year of research at the NIH so much that he vowed never to go into research. Dr. Lefkowitz originally believed that his calling was to become a physician. Nearly forty years and one Nobel prize later it turns out that he couldn’t have been more wrong, solid proof that it takes time to find your true calling.
So how has my eight week experience affected my career choice? Honestly I have no idea. Its too early in the game to say for sure. What I do know is that I don’t intend for this to be the end of the road. Eight weeks was long enough only to grant me a teeny, tiny taste of the research life, but it wasn’t nearly long enough for me to decide whether I’m suited to commit my life to it. Nevertheless, I just might be hooked. But, like I said, its too early to say for sure. And what’s the rush anyway? Isn’t that what being an undergrad is all about? Trying out new things, pursuing weird interests?
The way I see it, the best way to find your calling is to start out with a list of all your interests and then start crossing things off that list. This summer was just the beginning of that process. And I discovered research is definitely something I don’t want to cross off my list just yet.