If you were a kid in the 80’s (as I was) you have probably recognised the quote in the title “I love it when a plan comes together” from the leader of The A team Hannibal Smith. And now you are picturing Hannibal (I am) saying his quote while lighting a big cigar. Well, I have to say that things didn’t work for me that way but I’m not less happy because of that.
I guess that many people, scientists (yes, scientists are people after all) or more specifically chemists like me make a lot of plans with lots of time in advance imaging how their careers in science will be. I decided I wanted to be a chemist at the age of 16. So, there I was collecting all type of information on “how to become a chemist” and I started to write my own script , my own pathway to become a chemist. Study hard, get good marks, go to university, study hard, get good marks, get a Ph.D. fellowship, publish a lot in good journals, go abroad for a couple of years as post-doc, work hard, publish a lot, get permanent position and live happily ever after doing chemistry stuff. It wasn’t that difficult, was it?
First year at the university studying chemistry, everything goes as planned, I am happy there are no surprises so far, I am on my way to become a chemist so I only have to stick to the plan. Time goes by, I fall in love with organic chemistry and I get my degree, and now what? Let me check the script, yes of course now is time for a Ph.D. Perfect then, bullet point under the section “start my Ph.D.”
-Go to see supervisor to discuss about the best options to get funding for my Ph.D.
That was the exact moment my script started to have major failures, my supervisor changed everything when he recognised to me that I would have more opportunities in a better chemistry group. He knew how much I wanted to do a Ph.D. and took the liberty to contact one of his colleagues from probably one of the best groups in organic chemistry at that time in Spain. This is what it was going on, my supervisor was “plotting against me” he was making plans behind my back, he dared to change my script, the script I had been writing for years. The morning I went to my supervisor’s office with the idea to talk about fellowships he had set me up with a phone interview for a Ph.D. position. Guess what, I got a Ph.D. position in an interview I had not included in my career plans. That moment definitely changed my life and my career.
That was only the beginning, as I was writing the post I realised it was going to be too long and that I should write a bit more on “plan changes” in my next posts. Life has made many plans on my behalf and I had to re-write my script many times.
Thanks Javier I will never be able to thank you enough.