This is a question I’ve been getting a lot recently with my new job. Just a few weeks ago I left my job at MIT in Boston to move to Houston to come work at NASA as a science communications specialist for the International Space Station.
My love of space is no secret. I worked as a space reporter at MIT, I wear space inspired style all the time and will never pass up the opportunity to watch a launch livestream.
But when you are willing to dedicate so much of your life to something, you get some people asking why. Especially when it’s space and people ask you the standard, “Why worry about space when there are problems here on Earth?”
Don’t worry if you don’t know where you are going next. I haven’t known for the past 5 years.
From the outside, paths seem a lot clearer. Ambitions seem obvious. Dream jobs seem like perfect next steps.
From the inside, every step is filled with uncertainty, decisions, and self doubt. Thinking of the chairs you will leave empty, the projects you will leave behind, all for an ambiguous hope for what you imagine a role will be like.
In the past three years I’ve moved from Florida to London to Massachusetts to Texas. My journey from engineer to The Economist to MIT to NASA probably looks planned out. Like a cleanly executed five year plan. In reality it’s been late nights, long discussions, tears, uncertainty, and worry. Moving away from doing science work to communications was a distressing decision at the time. Choosing not to accept, or even apply, for full time work when I was graduating was a leap. I’ve taken a lot of bets on myself, my company, and paid for it with time.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy I’ve made the choices I have. I’m ecstatic to be working at NASA now! But just know as you make your career choices, everyone else is facing hard choices too, and the people getting the big opportunities aren’t just having them served up.
As Gary Vaynerchuk says, there aren’t any overnight successes.
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