Blog of the Peer Advising Leadership Program, College of Natural Resources, UC Berkeley

November 21, 2009 5:18 PM

Life after Cal

Now that I am finally graduating (in a month or so!), I decided to revisit my blog from 3 years ago regarding my future career goals. Honestly, not much have changed, but my focus has become much more focused from all of the experiences I've had.

Below are some answers to common questions I am receiving right now. But I want to emphasize this: pursue what you are passionate in. Yes, these are difficult times, and sometimes I wish I knew exactly what I wanted to pursue or if I just said that I wanted to pursue an MD (I like to explore all of my options before deciding, and I'm kind of slow). Be persistent. Do what you love. And don't feel pressured to know what you want to do. I certainly don't really know right now (and I'm panicking), but it's normal. Plus, people change their minds as their lives change. So don't feel like what you decide now is what you have to do in the future. Let your interests guide you.

Question 1: What am I going to do right after I graduate?
Easy answer, I don't know. But I am applying to some USDA jobs, some internships, and other opportunities I can find. I am planning to go home to gain that clinical experience that I am lacking (just to make sure I want to do medicine; haven't completely ruled it out yet) and just looking to get more experience before I decide to pursue a degree.

Question 2: What degree are you planning to pursue?
Most likely a PhD in plant biology at a university with an association with a major botanical institution if medicine doesn't quite work out the way I want it to. Since I am interested in complementary and alternative medicine, I am thinking about naturopathy, osteopathy, maybe even traditional Chinese medicine.

Question 3: What career do you hope to have in the future?
After my experience at the Smithsonian, I will have to say I want to be a research associate/curator at a major botanical institution. That is absolutely my dream right now for so many reasons. I love gardens. I love plants. I love the knowledge the researchers at museums/botanical gardens have. I love the collaborations and partnerships and the exchange of knowledge among colleagues. I love the passing of information to the public via exhibits at museums.

I feel like so many people don't realize the importance of plants in our world. Dried plant specimens are not very interesting (although placed in an artistic manner, it might be), and it can be hard to get people to become excited in plants as compared to insects or dinosaurs or mammals. I want to be able to guide people into understanding why plants are important and why we need conserve plants.

Medicine: okay, yes, it is not exactly my passion right now and I don't know as much about it as I should if I am considering it, but I will say this. I am very interested in how complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) will affect people's lives, especially when people start using CAM. Research will be very important in establishing these fields in a broader level (or more respect and attention). So if I really decide to go into this field, this is perhaps what I will do.

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