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Follow Your Nose

Posted on December 4, 2007

Focusing on career strategies can make you lose sight of your inner voice, believes Jay Belsky (bio).


When it comes to career advice, I’m about to say I only give one piece of career advice, but it’s probably not the only one I give. But it’s the one I think the most highly of and give the most pointedly, which is, Follow your nose. How’d you get here? I’m very suspicious of career advice and strategizing, et cetera.

It may help you climb "the career ladder," but if you lose your soul along the way what’s the point? Presumably you’re here, you’re doing science, you’re doing research because you’re intellectually curious, and you’re curious about the things you’re interested in. And you got here naively by following that scent that you picked up.

Nobody imposed it on you hopefully, and I would say keep following that scent. That’s your inner voice and nobody can give you that. That’s yours. Anything you can do to cultivate and sustain it, you should do. I remember being given advice as a young academic, and it’s probably sound advice, “Oh you should network, and you should arrange to have symposiums in which you have these important people on it, and you should get publications.” There was nothing about, “You should feed your curiosity. You should explore your fascinations. You should share the work that you’re proud of.” It was like that was lost.

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Excerpted from interview with researcher at the 2007 SRCD Biennial Meeting in Boston, MA.


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