What’s Good About a Winding Career Path

When I introduce myself at the start of the term, I always try to give my students a sense of how I became a scholar. A lot of young people seem to think that you must start at point A and there is only one direct path to point B. I know that I thought this. But for many people, myself included, it doesn’t work that way. Our career paths meander through L, M, and N, detour at H and X, or stop at R (an ending or just a layover).

An indirect path is not failure. Those detours, winding paths, and stops can give you unanticipatedly useful skills for a career (and life in general) that will really help you feel like you are making a difference. You will meet good people that become friends and mentors whom you might not otherwise have met. And you learn lessons (including what not to do) and figure out what’s really good for you along the way. You know, stuff that can help you find your happy.

Recently, a doctoral student I mentor/advise, Adriane Michaelis, recorded a podcast about her winding career path and how she’s ended up in environmental anthropology. The interview is part of a website/podcast series, So You Want To Be A Marine Biologist, that targets students who might be considering a career in marine biology or just helping our oceans. The post, Diving into “What’s Good” with Oyster Aquaculture, really highlights the many ways someone can contribute positively to ocean/marine protection. I also think Adriane does a great job explaining how all those meanders, detours, and stops are what’s good for a career in environmental anthropology.

More about Adriane & her oyster aquaculture research

Adriane is currently conducting interviews with oyster growers and harvesters for her dissertation. It’s an ambitious research project looking at the cultural services provided by oyster aquaculture in comparison to wild oyster harvests in the Chesapeake Bay, Gulf Coast, and New England regions. This anthropological study is funded by an NSF Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant. Her ethnographic pilot research in the Chesapeake Bay focused on livelihood diversification into oyster aquaculture by Maryland watermen and others. This work has been supported by a Maryland Sea Grant Coastal Resilience and Sustainability Research Fellowship. When finished, Adriane’s research will build out our knowledge of cultural ecosystem services and help to improve oyster fishery management.

In addition to the research and writing for a more academic/scientific audience, Adriane keeps a blog, Oysters, Livelihoods, and Anthropology, as well as an Instagram page, @2dogsagirlandanoystertour, to share her research more widely with the community of oyster growers and harvesters and the general public.

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