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Where I have been for the past 2 years: Research, and moving out of academia

I have not posted much in terms of my personal experiences as someone pursuing Astronomy in India here, even though that was my initial intention when I started this blog in the first place.

Regardless, it is never too late, right?

So over the past 2 years, I have managed to complete my Master’s degree doing something I truly enjoy. I would say the hardest part about doing a Master’s degree is certainly keeping up with the coursework. I found that once I found my footing, it was a lot more natural for me to settle into the rhythm of working on a research project. It was mostly self motivated, and that is perhaps the most important aspect of picking a subject such as this, which does not necessarily guarantee a ‘job’ at the end of the degree. At the risk of sounding uncharacteristically intellectual, you shouldn’t take up any research degree unless you feel like you can’t breathe without working on said topic (to have a truly transcedental experience).

My days while on campus were equal parts fun and exciting, split between days socialising with like-minded people, and sleepless nights trying to solve one or the other problem I was facing at work. Personally, this was the most rewarding part of being on campus, the healthy challenge.

However, it should be noted, that this is not for everyone should be doing, and the lifestyle that is often encouraged at these institutes by some students (including yours truly) is neither healthy nor sustainable. One must have a very strong sense of self, or develop a very strong sense of self, and establish boundaries in such an environment. Otherwise the Parker’s law (work will take up as much time as you give it) will dominate your days and nights (including dreams).O

This resulted in a rickety work ethic. One week I would fall head over heels in love with my work and spend the whole week not talking to people, just eating, sleeping and working. The following weeks, I would barely touch anything “productive” then become obsessed for weeks and around and around it went. Let me note here that this was because of my disordered relationship with self worth and work, and that is what I would like to point out here: one of the most important aspects that dictate what kind of a life you will have while doing something self-motivated like research is your relationship with yourself and your work.

After I graduated my course from IIT-I and was looking for something to occupy my days, so I decided to be a normal person for a change and applied for some jobs that fit the skills I had developed over my time at IIT-I and I was pleasantly surprised to land one! So as of now, I am working at a little place called American Express as a Data Science Analyst. Do I have any clue of what I am doing? No. Do I enjoy “normalcy”? I don’t know. But what I do know is that this break feels necessary to reconcile with the part of me that is an absolute nerd for Physics and Astronomy. Perhaps fittingly, like in most romantic relationships, I am taking a necessary ‘break’ from my love.

So right now, I am a cog in the corporate machine.


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