Saturday June 5, 2004

When I grow up...

When I was nine years old I wanted to grow up to be...

What? A doctor? An artist? An astronaut? In honor of my step-daughter's ninth birthday today, tell your readers and fellow Slanters what you wanted to grow up to be when you were nine. Tell us how that differs from what you did grow up to be, and why the difference.

[ Today's question is from Saturday Slant ]

I recall three things I wanted to be when I grew up. The earliest thought (and one that still has high sentimental value to me) was that I wanted to be one of the modelers who works in a museum, building diorama, modeling and painting dinosaurs, etc. Whenever I visited a museum. I'd think "It would be fun to be one of the people who does that".

The second thing I thought I might want to be, somewhere around the age of 12 or so, was an Efficiency Expert. I was 10 in 1970 and the 70s were the era of the "Efficiency Expert". I thought that sounded wonderful.

The thing I pretty much expected I would grow up to be was a scientist. I had a chemistry set. I kept pet planaria every summer from 7th through 12 grade. I subscribed to "Things of Science" (a delightful monthly "science by mail" club that, sadly, no longer exists). I had a microscope. I subscribed to Science Digest (a wonderful periodical that also, sadly, no longer exists).

By Junior High, Science was in the lead. By Senior High I was taking every science class I could register for. I had my future career path all planned out.

In my Junior year of High School, I took my first Computer programming class. I was hooked. Now computers were definitely in my future.

When I started College, I had a difficult time making the decision about my major. Within 6 months, I had signed up for a double major in Biochemistry and Computer Science. By my third year, however, I was having second thoughts. It was obvious that I didn't enjoy Biochem labs. I didn't much like punching boxes of cards for computer programs either (yes, children, we punched cards way back then). I was no longer interested in a 5-year degree program. So I dropped both the Biochem and CompSci, switched over to Microbiology and finished in 4 years. But... now I was qualified to do bench Microbiology and I didn't want to do that. So I went to grad school, briefly considered a PhD, changed my mind, met my now-hubby, got involved with computer programming again (much more fun without the cards! ;-), found a sympathetic advisor with a project that needed computer analysis work, wrote my thesis, and graduated with a Masters in Micro and a lot of experience with computer programming (specifically Unix). And from that, I got my first job.

Today I am a programmer and technical writer. My preferred areas of concentration are internal documentation, process creation and improvement, and quality assurance. My long ago thoughts of becoming an Efficiency Expert still serve me well in my pursuit of process improvement, quality enhancement, and documenting everything that can be documented! I'm still interested in Science — particularly chemistry, biology, genetics,, and BioTech — I've held programming positions for three BioTech firms and we subscribe to several science periodicals.

When I think back, the fields I'm most interested in today didn't exist when I was nine years old! The WWW, color graphical user interfaces, personal computers, the Internet, BioTech... all of these were Science Fiction in 1969! I sometimes wonder about kids today, in elementary and High School, or even College, trying to make career decisions so many years ahead. The world changes so fast!

I'm not where I expected to be when I was nine (nor where I expected to be when I was nineteen either!) but I like where I am. Many of my interests from long ago are reflected in who I am and what I do today. Still, whenever I go to a museum, I sometimes look at the models and sigh just a little and think "I could have done that".

When I grow up... ( in category Memes & Prompts ) - posted at Sat, 05 Jun, 14:00 Pacific | «e»