• Question: how long did it take you guys to choose your career especially in science

    Asked by anon-316885 on 9 Mar 2022. This question was also asked by anon-317376, anon-317371, anon-319052, anon-316775, anon-316755, anon-316858, anon-319922.
    • Photo: Sahil Din

      Sahil Din answered on 9 Mar 2022:

      Hi there what451tet and thank you for asking this question.

      To be honest I didn’t really know what i wanted to do until the very end of my A-levels when I was writing my personal statement for university. (Probably not the greatest answer :D)

      But from narrowing down the subjects i was studying from GCSE’s to A-level than to university, I chose subjects that I enjoyed the most, and when it came to the time of choosing my degree. I chose the subject that i enjoyed studying all those previous years, which was product design, and that is what I am doing now.

    • Photo: Jamie Smith

      Jamie Smith answered on 9 Mar 2022:

      Hi! Thanks for your question!

      I think the choice of what you want to do for a career comes in stages.

      At GCSEs I wasn’t 100% sure what I wanted to do – but I narrowed it down to the sciences when I chose my A Levels. I then had to choose to do Engineering, then which Engineering course I wanted to do and then pick a particular part of that I wanted to work in. That whole process happens over several years – so it’s ok to not be sure exactly what you want to do!

      It’s also ok to change your mind. I switched my University course after my first year from Electromechanical Engineering (robots/rovers etc) to Electrical and Electronic Engineering (a bit more open) because I wanted to explore more areas.

    • Photo: Victoria Fawcett

      Victoria Fawcett answered on 9 Mar 2022:

      Thank you for your question 🙂

      It took my a long time to decide what I wanted to do. The first thing I remember that I wanted to grow up to be was a singer! Then a vet, then an astronaut, then a mathematician, then a nuclear scientist, then a particle physicist… and finally an astronomer when I was 20!!

      So don’t worry if you are not sure what you want to do when you are older, just keep working at the things you love 🙂

    • Photo: Alex Headspith

      Alex Headspith answered on 9 Mar 2022:


      I was sort of sure that I wanted to go into an engineering career – but it wasn’t until a chance opportunity that I got to visit Daresbury Laboratory (where I now work) that I knew that it was the specific career for me. This happened when I was in Year 9 (back in 2014) and I got the opportunity to become an apprentice there in 2016 straight after my GCSEs. I picked my GCSEs in order to try and stand myself in good stead for getting an apprenticeship there but with the knowledge that they would be good too for going down the classic route of A- levels and then a degree.

      I’ve recently moved from working as a Mechanical Engineering Technician to take on a job as a Mechanical Design Engineer. I wouldn’t worry about setting on a career path as soon as because it will develop naturally. The main thing is that you focus on something you enjoy – as this will provide you with the greatest opportunity.

    • Photo: Hannah Griffin

      Hannah Griffin answered on 9 Mar 2022:

      To be honest I didn’t plan to work for a scientific organisation! I studied software / information systems engineering at university. My first job was working for a company that used OCR (optical character recognition) to process handwritten direct debit forms. I heard about the scientific organisation I work at through my boyfriend (now husband!) who spotted the advert – we wanted to buy a house and it was a pay rise so it appealed because if I got it (which fortunately I did!) it made it easier for us to think about getting a mortgage. Having said all that, that was back in 2007 and I’ve not looked back – I love working with so many clever and curious people who want to improve lives using science.

    • Photo: Alistair McShee

      Alistair McShee answered on 9 Mar 2022:

      Absolutely ages!

      I had no idea what I wanted to be during school or even the first two years of university; I’d done a work experience placement in Year 10 which was fun, but I didn’t know enough to consider a career back then.

      During university, you can take a placement for a couple of months over summer and “try out” a job for a bit, with no commitment after the placement ends – This is not only great fun, but they usually pay as well so you can experience a bit of what a life in that career would be like!

      I did two placements during my time at university, both in very different things, and then decided to apply to the first one as a full-time job after uni, and here I am!

    • Photo: Daisy Shearer

      Daisy Shearer answered on 10 Mar 2022:

      To be honest, I am still not sure where my career will take me after my PhD. There are lots of options I’m interested in such as becoming a quantum engineer in industry, developing scientific equipment, working in public engagement, and becoming a teaching fellow at a university.

      I decided to do physics at uni when I was around 15 as it had become my favourite subject at school. Then throughout my degree, I tried lots of different modules to see which areas of physics interested me most. By the time I did a placement year, I knew that I quite liked quantum technology so I did my placement in that field and that made me want to continue doing quantum tech research. So on the whole it’s taken a while to settle on a field of physics that I want to work in!

    • Photo: Luke Humphrey

      Luke Humphrey answered on 10 Mar 2022:

      Honestly a long time. I think part of this was forming an identity next to siblings who got better grades in STEM subjects than me. This informed me that I was better off not focusing on STEM too much, and forming an identity as “the arty one”.

      I originally went to university to study history, but I dropped out because I didn’t like the way academic historians focused on minute details and wrote essays that were only read by other historians. This is probably not fair to all the historians who do great stuff, but I was feeling alienated because I wanted to do work that impacted the world directly.

      After that I worked in a supermarket for a couple of years, which was a pretty sad time in my life, where I hated my job but didn’t have much motivation to do anything about it and was very tired every day. I still think it’s the hardest job I’ve ever done and yet people were not payed as much as they deserve for it.

      It was my mum who suggested a course to me in physics with teacher training, because I’d mentioned thinking of being a science teacher in the past. I signed up and was very scared I would not be able to keep up with the hard maths, but in the end I did very well. At that level, its not about how well you can remember things, or how good you are at calculating in your head, it’s about solving problems – it’s very fun if you like that kind of thing!

      I really liked the astrophysics module in my first year, so I swapped from the teacher training course to astrophysics. In my final year I did a big project simulating the life of binary stars (stars that are so close to each other they gloop onto each other!). I really enjoyed using computers to simulate and visualise things that can’t be experimented on directly, like stars.

    • Photo: Martha Hilton

      Martha Hilton answered on 11 Mar 2022:

      There’s not an exact answer to this question for me. I knew I wanted to study physics when I was doing my GCSE’s around age 16 so I chose Physics, Maths and Further Maths A Levels. I then studied physics at university and still wasn’t sure what I wanted for my career. So I took some time out and then decided to do a PhD. I have now finished my PhD and am a researcher in particle physics. I think people’s careers and ideas can change so even now I might be doing something different in five years time!