the case for future trajectory

July 2, 2018

Scared that my long, well-articulated answer about my future directions in (biomedical) science would be swallowed by a proverbial internet black hole then later spit into the metaphorical vast land of void, I would like to archive a question and the answer to that question about my future trajectory.

The question reads as follows:

Hai aizan. It’s me from the other day :) might be too late to say thankyou (?) but yep I’ll just say it. Thanyou arigatou!! ^ ^ I just knew that you pursue your master/phd (wlupun dah follow aizan lama huhu), is it still in Rochester? Knowing that you further your tertiary education (not tertiary dah ni haha) made me curious. Nanti balik kerja as researcher or applying for lecturer vacant? I’m in my third year now somewhere in malaysia uni. Feels like to apply for master jugak but then engineering, would it be worth it?

Let’s break this question into parts.

I just knew that you pursue your master/phd, is it still in Rochester?

Yes, I am still in Rochester. I graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) with magna cum laude (a fancy way to say I did quite well, more about this here). Shortly before I graduated, I was offered a PhD position at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC), roughly 15 minutes away from RIT.

No, I am not doing Masters. I skipped that (but not really, because PhD in the U.S. is a little interesting). But I am expecting to receive my Masters certification end of next academic year if I aced the Qualification Exam (a.k.a The Qual). We will talk more about this later.

Nanti balik kerja as researcher or applying for lecturer vacant?

This is the meat for this piece. This is where I should give you an analogy. Picture a jungle. A big one. Now, a jungle represents the mind, a jumbled mind with monkeys and apes making noises and running around. Now pictures trees, like a lot of trees and they are many different types of them. Okay I don’t know what I am saying, and that’s the point.

I have no idea. But there are some ideas I would like to entertain.

First, would I ever go back to Malaysia? Yes, one fine day, but not anytime soon. I have 4 years left for my PhD, and that is the minimum. Right after the completion of my PhD (after The Defense), I would embark on my post-doctoral fellowship/training, which would take another 2-4 years to finish. The real job takes place after that, but where?

Maybe here in the States? Maybe I will migrate to Europe? Or closer like Australia or Japan? I do not know. In the grand scheme of things, I would like to avoid teaching positions, that means I would like to avoid academia. Why? Although I received compliments saying that I am quite good at teaching, I don’t think I could handle students well.

So to answer the first question for this part: I might come back to Malaysia, but not anytime soon. I would like to avoid teaching positions. Very likely I’d position myself as a policymaker or working at WHO-like institution.

Feels like to apply for master jugak but then engineering, would it be worth it?

I am sorry kiddo, I have no idea how the landscape and the market of engineering field would look like. You might want to ask my friend, @AzianaTeh because she just finished her Masters (Electrical Engineering, I believe) and about to go Japan for her PhD.

Spare me. I am just 24 (twenty-freaking-four). Young and green and I know nothing about life. I just happen to be doing it. And life remaining is 0. God knows how many times I screwed it up already.