Well, I guess it's my turn to do the introduction thing. As a preface, let me say that not only is this my first post on this blog, it's also my first post ever, on any blog, anywhere. Yes, I'm a noob. Please educate me on blog-iquette (woohoo! I coined a word!) as necessary.
So, the short life story: I have a Ph.D. in geochemistry, which I earned in 2005 from Cornell University. (My mother was very proud.) Before that, I got a B.S. in geology from the University of Delaware.
About two-thirds of the way through graduate school, I became aware (thanks to a long series of unpleasant events that I won't detail here) that I had, in fact, very little interest in becoming a professor or researcher--at least in geochemistry. (For the record, 2/3 of the way through is a VERY bad time to figure this out. It's far enough in that it's silly to change direction, especially if you have funding; and it's far enough from the end that you have the prospect of a year and a half of not really enjoying what you're doing to comfort you at night. I don't recommend it.) I thought what I actually wanted to do was teach high school. I had become involved in several outreach/teaching activities as a grad student, and they had gotten me into classrooms and in front of kids, and I really enjoyed it.
Unfortunately, this was also right around the time that the No Child Left Behind act was starting to bare its teeth, and I didn't think I'd be able to get a teaching job without certification. And getting certification either meant paying for another 2-3 years of graduate school, or committing to teach for 3-4 years in a high-need public school while also working 25 hours a week earning my degree. Neither of these options appealed to me, so I started exploring other options.
As you might imagine, I had a rather hard time exploring those avenues. The university career services center was--to put it politely--less than useful for someone not seeking a job in business, marketing (no offense, CAE), or industrial research. My advisor was, if not negative, definitely not particularly helpful. So I turned to the Internet. (Where else?)
I started looking for jobs with museums, universities, textbook companies, pretty much anything that would let me do pre-college education without state certification. I sent out the requisite million resumes. The only response I got was from an educational content developer. They offered me a job as a science editor, and as I had at that point been looking for a job for a year or so and had had not so much as a nibble from anywhere else, I took the job. Three years later, I am still here.
The company I work for is a vendor. That means that other companies hire us to do work for them. Most of the companies we work for are educational publishers of some kind; almost all focus on the K-12 market. We've done work for the big basal publishers, and also for lots of smaller companies. We do all sorts of products, from text books to teacher guides to lab manuals to high-stakes tests and test prep. Our company works in all disciplines; I work in the science department. The department is currently quite small, so we all pretty much have to do everything; although my degree is in Earth science, last week I was writing life science questions, and this week I'm working on a teacher guide for physics.
If there is one thing I can say about my job, it is that it is never predictable. This is, I think, a function both of the type of company I work for and of the type of work I do. Because we work entirely on contract, we are never really sure how much work we will have in the future; therefore, things tend to swing from feast to famine with alarming rapidity (although, because NCLB's science requirements are now coming into effect, it's been more in the "feast" mode lately). And because I'm one of only a few editors in the department, I'm never really sure what I'm going to be doing next.
I'd say the job has its ups and downs. I'm fairly confident now that, although I enjoy the work, this particular industry is not a great fit for me. I think my first instincts in grad school--that I'd like to work in informal education, such as in a museum--were probably right; I'm currently keeping my eyes and ears open for other job options.
I guess that's about it (you should see the LONG life story...) for my background. Looking forward to your comments...
(And for those of you questioning the title: Yes, I live in Pittsburgh. Yins should visit, n'at.)