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Suggested Citation:"6 THE RESPONSIBILITY IS YOURS." Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, and National Academy of Engineering. 1996. Careers in Science and Engineering: A Student Planning Guide to Grad School and Beyond. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5129.
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6
The Responsibility Is Yours

Essential to the nature of both science and engineering is that they are both changing constantly. We can see that clearly by comparing what we see around us today with what we would have seen just a few years ago. We would not have seen a major new scientific field, like biotechnology; a major new engineering technique, like computer-aided design; a major new communication mechanism, like the Internet, or major new ways in which science and engineering can contribute to societal needs, like environmental engineering.

But change has its sobering consequences. For example, you might choose to enter a field that is "hot" today, only to find out that it is not so hot tomorrow. Life-long employment in any occupation has largely become a thing of the past. Even well-known tenure-track professors are being forced into early retirement; major industries are closing down their central research facilities.

What do those trends mean for you? Most importantly, they mean that any career you enter will be characterized by

Suggested Citation:"6 THE RESPONSIBILITY IS YOURS." Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, and National Academy of Engineering. 1996. Careers in Science and Engineering: A Student Planning Guide to Grad School and Beyond. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5129.
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continual change and you will spend your career adapting to that change. In Self-Renewal, John Gardner writes:

If we indoctrinate the young person in an elaborate set of fixed beliefs, we are ensuring his [or her] early obsolescence. The alternative is to develop skills, attitudes, habits of mind and the kinds of knowledge and understanding that will be the instruments of continuous change and growth . . . . Then we will have fashioned a system that provides for its own continuous renewal (1995).

What can you do to avoid obsolescence? You can acquire the life-long habit of watching for new fields to explore, new techniques to learn and use, and new societal needs to which you can contribute.

In the end, the responsibility of making your career successful is yours. The profiles you have seen throughout this guide provide excellent testimony to the fact that you can find interesting and valuable things to do, no matter where you begin. A successful career does not just happen; it has to be created. And you are the one to create it.

Suggested Citation:"6 THE RESPONSIBILITY IS YOURS." Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, and National Academy of Engineering. 1996. Careers in Science and Engineering: A Student Planning Guide to Grad School and Beyond. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5129.
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Action Points

  • Constantly aware new opportunities in science and engineering and trends in federal and industrial funding.
  • Continually review employment market in fields of interest via the disciplinary societies, journals, newspapers, Internet listings, etc.
  • Take occasional classes (perhaps distance-learning techniques) that maintain your level of understanding of both your field and others or that add new skills (e.g., in management and accounting) of use in any field.
  • Subscribe to general science technology magazines—such as Science, Nature, and Technology Review—to keep abreast of current events and new opportunities in your field.
  • Review the list of abilities that contribute to success as a scientist or engineer in Appendix B.
  • Remind yourself that planning your career path is ultimately your responsibility.
  • Review career performance and satisfaction once a year throughout your life. Begin with your resume as soon as you enter college and update it at least annually. (It is also useful for performance reviews.)
Suggested Citation:"6 THE RESPONSIBILITY IS YOURS." Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, and National Academy of Engineering. 1996. Careers in Science and Engineering: A Student Planning Guide to Grad School and Beyond. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5129.
×
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Suggested Citation:"6 THE RESPONSIBILITY IS YOURS." Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, and National Academy of Engineering. 1996. Careers in Science and Engineering: A Student Planning Guide to Grad School and Beyond. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5129.
×
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Suggested Citation:"6 THE RESPONSIBILITY IS YOURS." Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, and National Academy of Engineering. 1996. Careers in Science and Engineering: A Student Planning Guide to Grad School and Beyond. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5129.
×
Page 110
Suggested Citation:"6 THE RESPONSIBILITY IS YOURS." Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, and National Academy of Engineering. 1996. Careers in Science and Engineering: A Student Planning Guide to Grad School and Beyond. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5129.
×
Page 111
Suggested Citation:"6 THE RESPONSIBILITY IS YOURS." Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, and National Academy of Engineering. 1996. Careers in Science and Engineering: A Student Planning Guide to Grad School and Beyond. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5129.
×
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As science and technology advance, the needs of employers change, and these changes continually reshape the job market for scientists and engineers. Such shifts present challenges for students as they struggle to make well-informed education and career choices. Careers in Science and Engineering offers guidance to students on planning careers--particularly careers in nonacademic settings--and acquiring the education necessary to attain career goals. This booklet is designed for graduate science and engineering students currently in or soon to graduate from a university, as well as undergraduates in their third or fourth year of study who are deciding whether or not to pursue graduate education. The content has been reviewed by a number of student focus groups and an advisory committee that included students and representatives of several disciplinary societies. Careers in Science and Engineering offers advice on not only surviving but also enjoying a science- or engineering-related education and career-- how to find out about possible careers to pursue, choose a graduate school, select a research project, work with advisers, balance breadth against specialization, obtain funding, evaluate postdoctoral appointments, build skills, and more. Throughout, Careers in Science and Engineering lists resources and suggests people to interview in order to gather the information and insights needed to make good education and career choices. The booklet also offers profiles of science and engineering professionals in a variety of careers. Careers in Science and Engineering will be important to undergraduate and graduate students who have decided to pursue a career in science and engineering or related areas. It will also be of interest to faculty, counselors, and education administrators.

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