Welcome to our first guest blogger, Randy Rovinski, who will take time out of writing his Master’s thesis to meet with some of the many people behind the scenes at Sunnybrook. He’s a University of Toronto Neuropsychopharmacology Master’s student (researching the neurobiology of mood and anxiety disorders here at Sunnybrook) – but, like many, he’s still unsure what he actually wants to do when this whole school thing is finally over.
When I was first asked to write something for the education blog – something about career advice for students, to be specific – I was thinking, “You’ve got the wrong person.”
Yes, I am a student: I’m finishing up my Master’s, not particularly interested in continuing on to a PhD, and waiting on a response from Irish medical schools (since an application to a Canadian medical school would be an exercise in futility, given what I appear to be on paper.)
I wouldn’t say I have the “career” thing figured out. So, what would I write?
I quickly realized that despite my self-deprecation, I really have amassed a great deal of information about the opportunities out there due to my curiosity (yes, OK, some may call it career indecisiveness). I’ve done bench work, animal research, and now clinical work. I worked as a summer student for Sanofi, as a reporter for the Town Crier (where I met Alexis Dobranowski – communications advisor at Sunnybrook and Admin of this blog), and volunteered on ambulances and in a yoga studio. I’ve chatted with journalists, such as the Globe’s Margaret Wente, with photographers, psychiatrists, researchers, venture capitalists, medical writers, and big pharma employees.
This reflection reminded me I’ve always been fascinated by people, by what they do, and the lives they lead. And, it reminded me how disparate a student’s or young person’s perspective on job opportunities is from the reality. Virtually every conversation about future aspirations I’ve had with friends and colleagues around this stage in their lives has echoed the same notion – that for people studying biological or life sciences, the choices are a) academia, b) industry (whatever that means), and c) medical or other professional training. I’ve heard lots about the fear of entering the workplace and about the unrelenting hopelessness of the conventional job search.
The things the most downtrodden of these people had in common were that they thought jobs were only applied for through online job postings; they thought career options were strictly streamlined along existing defined lines of work; they feared the overwhelming number of jobs out there that they didn’t even know how to find. And guess what, I think most of us can understand those sentiments – I know I can, and I know I’ve spent a lot of time plagued by them in the past.
I work in the Neuropsychopharmacology department and research the neurobiology of mood and anxiety disorders. I like what I do, and I enjoy research, but I don’t feel I’ve discovered the place I’d like to spend another five years. And despite my desire to study medicine, I don’t think getting into medical school will definitively decide my future and end my career contemplations. We grow and change directions constantly, and we are in a perpetual state of flux. So we must continue to speak with people, seek out opportunities, network, ask questions and learn what’s out there.
And so, in the spirit of that quest, I am going to set out to speak to people around the hospital. Those people you see pass you every day with a badge hanging around their neck while you squint to make out what their job title is, wondering, “What the heck does that person do?” Perhaps you’ll have no desire to do what they do. But they might have some pretty interesting stories to share. It might not be “career advice”: but these stories might shed light on what goes on around our hospital – things you had no idea about. And something they’ve done or continue to do might inspire you, or spark an interest or idea.