I have a weird little masochistic hobby – I often ask my friends how these decided to become scientists.
The answer is almost without exception some combination of: I always loved science…I loved the science fair…as a kid I wanted to know how things work…I was always fiddling with engines/chemicals/ant farms (or whatever).
That wasn’t me. As a little girl I wanted to be a waitress, and when I got a little older I couldn’t wait to be a lifeguard. As I entered my teen years, Ally McBeal was popular on tv, so I thought maybe I could be a lawyer. I sort of liked my science classes, but I liked my other classes just as much. I was required to participate in the school science fair in second and fifth grades. I didn’t understand the point of the assignment, so my dad pretty much did my projects for me. I didn’t build things or fix things or exhibit an undeniable curiosity about the way the world works. So yeah, I feel a little lame when my friends tell me about their lifelong love of science. I also feel a little ambivalent when I see students guided toward internships and career preparation at younger and younger ages.