I feel like there is a dividing line between my life before and after CSCA. Before graduation, I had rather mixed expectations about what would happen after my master’s. Would I do a PhD? Or would I get an ordinary job? And what kind of an ordinary job could I possibly do? Would anyone hire me? I thought graduation would escalate this confused state of mind into feelings of being lost and miserable. While I struggled among many question marks, graduation came as a fresh breath of air.
Thankfully, mixed emotions are not always what you anticipate them to be.
I left PhD ambitions aside. I had to find out whether I could succeed in a
different arena of life. The sense of relief and achievement after graduation
was overwhelming after 2 years of hard work, giving me all the energy I needed
for the coming winter months to search for my future prospects.
Rather than hibernating in my bed like I did all other winters, I started my search full throttle. I went to countless job fairs and some interviews, finding more and more about the possibilities that lay ahead. I found out that I could continue my research career at several companies. I also found out that I could go into completely different fields such as human resources, marketing or consultancy. But selling yourself is never an easy enterprise.
At times employers had no clue what cognitive science was about. I could have given them a whole philosophical explanation but we were no longer in the ‘Mind Matters’ class. It usually sufficed to say: ‘It’s like psychology’. Others told me that my research was too abstract, not tangible, and therefore not useful for the business world. I stopped talking about research after a while and focused on different assets that went into designing and conducting research.
All of these experiences taught me to present myself in a different light. I have not felt this excited for a long time to find out what lays ahead for me. Now, of course, this is not to say that life is full of sunshine and puppies. Searching for a job that you will eventually love is not easy. No matter how frustrating it can be at times, I am venturing out ever than before to see how far I can go before I fall back into the arms of cognitive science research.