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July 10, 2006

That career thing

I'm sure this piece of advice to young scientists by John Baez (of quantum gravity fame) is old news now (3 years on). But, seeing as it was written before I was paying attention to this kind of stuff myself, and it seems like quite good advice, here is it, in a nutshell:

1. Read voraciously, ask questions, don't be scared of "experts", and figure out what are the good problems to work on in your field.
2. Go the most prestigious school, and work with the best possible advisor.
3. Publish often and publish stuff people will want to read (and cite).
4. Go to conferences and give good, memorable talks.

Looking back over my success, so far, I think I've done a pretty good job on most of these things. His advice about going to a prestigious place seems to be more about getting a good advisor - I suppose that in physics, being a very old field, the best advisors can only be found at the most prestigious places. But, I'm not entirely convinced that this is true for the interdisciplinary mashup, which includes complex networks and the other things I like to study, yet...

posted July 10, 2006 12:50 AM in Simply Academic | permalink


Strange though it may seem, I do not belong in any case to a group of " young scientists", I am just a common seo copywriter who time from time makes the great sales for the clients. But nevertheless, I am not totally accidental to your blog. Graduating from college, it was about 10 years ago -yes, I am rather an old duck: ). I was to make a choice as the most students do - to cotinue my academic career by enlisting with some postgarduate course and making my contribution: ) to science. But being rather lazy and tired of boring writing assignments I decided to try myself in the world of practice without any theory, without research - where only your actions mattered. I hope I do not sound too rambling. Just raeding over your lines and the article you refer to - I wish it came my way - some ten years ago - maybe everything would be different then. thank you.

Posted by: Editing Master at July 11, 2006 03:00 AM

The best advisor does not necessarily coincide with the smartest advisor, and the most prestigious universities didn't necessarily get that way through good mentorship.

Posted by: Joshua at July 11, 2006 06:46 PM

Editing Master: I'm glad you enjoyed it. I've been pretty lucky in how much encouragement I've had in my graduate studies, but I attribute most of my drive toward actually completing my degree to having spent a year in industry before grad school - it was a wonderful experience that made me realize that I am happier in the unstructured (although highly competitive) environment of academia.

Posted by: Aaron at July 12, 2006 02:33 AM