The question 'where do you see yourself in three years' time?' will be asked to you throughout your student experience by colleagues, friends, family, future employers and even strangers.
I don’t think I would be alone in saying this question always comes with a certain amount of pressure, especially when you’re a student. There’s a pressure to say the ‘right’ answer, i.e. what you think the other person wants to hear.
When asked this question three years ago I didn’t have a clue. My only response was that I would have graduated university and would hopefully be working - I never would have thought I would study a Masters degree!
The job I would reply with would also change every few months, as soon as I discovered a new interest or passion within science, that would then become a possible new career path for me. That’s what being a student is all about: discovering new interests from medicine, to nutrition, then to laboratory work - and that was just in my first year of my undergraduate degree.
So, what is my answer to this question now? I have a couple of ideas:
A career in scientific writing: After my postgraduate course I would like to pursue a career in scientific writing and communications, which would hopefully involve writing content for both the public and the scientific community.
Research and writing is something I have had to do since day one of university and if I take away the pressure of grades and deadlines, I actually really enjoy analysing academic papers and learning about a wide range of topics.
A PhD: I also have a constant thirst for knowledge as I always feel I never know ‘enough’, which makes pursuing a PhD in the coming years very appealing. Even this route comes with its uncertainties. Would I pursue a project that fulfils my current interest in genetics? Or go for something relevant for the current times such as public health?
Although scary, the uncertainty has an exciting edge to it because the possibilities are endless. Therefore, the sincerest answer I can give is that I hope to see myself progressing in the scientific world and my career (whatever that may be) and to not have turned away any opportunities.
Having a paper published in a reputable scientific journal is also on the list but that probably wouldn’t be in the next three years and would also be after further study. But that’s okay. Life is about constant progression and improvement.
Just remember, it's okay not to have a definitive answer of where you will be in three years, don’t say what you think the other person wants to hear and be open minded! I guarantee as you progress through university your answer to this question will change one way or another, probably more than once. This is a good sign because even though determination to reach a goal is a great quality, learning more about yourself and opening up to opportunities is even better.
Emily studies MSc Applied Bioscience at ARU in Cambridge. If you're interested in postgraduate study and want to find out more about your options, come along to one of our postgraduate Open Evenings.