Friday, December 28, 2012

Looking at other people's blogs I see they are including personal things about themselves so I might as well join in. I wouldn't be surprised at 52 I am the oldest one of the interns. I am a career changer. I got my bachelors in animal science from Cornell University in 1983. I worked in research labs and along the way I picked up a MS in biology from Eastern Michigan University in 1989, except for the thesis all but finished a MS in chemistry at EMU, and started a doctoral program at the University of Texas at Arlington in chemistry and biochemistry. I burned out on school and dropped out of the PhD program in 1998. I worked in research labs up until October 2004 when I was laid off because of lack of funding. Research is funded by grants and grants were becoming increasingly scarce. The few job interviews I got I was told why should they hire me when they can hire some one fresh out of college cheaper? At the height of my research career in my last job I was only earning $29,000/yr and I was telling employers I would work for less I was so desperate for work. Fresh college grads were lucky to get $10/hour. I saw it was time for a career change.

With my background the only employer interested in me was education. Having taught in graduate school I really wasn't interested in teaching, I substitute taught for Fort Worth Independent School District 2005- 2007 while I looked for other work. I hated it. The kids were disrespectful and they didn't treat regular teachers any better than me. With my science background, the school district would have loved to have me teach full time. Most of the kids in the district weren't interested in science. Like many teenagers they were preoccupied with music, movies, sports, boy/girl friends, and computer games. I was also disappointed by teaching because as a researcher and student I was use to learning new science concepts all the time. In secondary school I was teaching the same low level science 6 periods a day. Family and friends said try community college teaching. I taught an introductory chemistry course at Tarrant County College. I hated lecturing but did enjoy teaching lab. I was only hired as an adjunct instructor, not full time. I needed another career. While substitute teaching I taught math which I did enjoy when I got the kids interested. Friends and family told me go into math teaching. I said enough with the teaching!

My mother, having taught secondary school when she wasn't an university professor, knew how stressful it was. Being a professor my mom told me go back to school and train for something else. I looked at what careers were being advertised in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. I ruled out nursing because if I took care of sick people I would want to be a doctor. I figured I was too old for medical school. Accounting looked boring and I wasn't pushy enough for sales. Then I came across computer science. I had the math background needed. Chemistry requires quite a lot of math. All I needed to do was take computer science classes. Before making a huge investment in school I decided to start at the community college (Tarrant County College) in 2006. I was a little scared because at Cornell 25 years earlier I had taken a couple of programming courses and didn't do too hot. At TCC I aced things with no trouble and enjoyed computer science. In 2007 I decided it was time to move to a university. I started a second bachelors program in computer science at the University of Texas at Arlington. I didn't want to do a whole other bachelors degree so I took enough computer science courses to get into graduate school. In 2009 I started graduate school at UTA. I was awarded a GAANN (Graduate Assistant in Area of National Need) Fellowship to study for a PhD.

My PhD adviser turned out to be obnoxious. By August 2010 I and 2 other students dropped out of his lab. I dropped down to the masters level. Maybe some day I 'll try a PhD program again but not now. With computer science I will be always learning for the job. I graduated with a masters in August 2012. 2 weeks after graduation I was hospitalized for rhabomyeolsis (breakdown of skeletal muscles) from improper dieting. Since my hospitalization I have been mostly home bound with home health care and physical therapy. Because of this I have been unable to go to job interviews. This internship comes along at the perfect time. It is remote so I can work from home. Having learned my lesson about eating I should be recovered by the time the internship is over. Then I can go on regular job interviews with this internship behind me.

Sorry this is so long but after all at 52 I have done quite a bit of living.

3 comments:

  1. Petra!

    I loved this post about yourself :-) I showed it to my mom. She was amazed at your resilience and grit. You really are an inspiration. Keep blogging about your internship and yourself. I'd be delighted to read more.

    P.S: I'm an intern for the GNOME Documentation team :)

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  2. So who are you so I can read your blog?

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