Deciding on a direction for my Masters

Deciding on a direction for my Masters

Hi everyone! I apologize for yet another “Advice on what to do with my life” post. I just genuinely do not have anyone else to ask.

I am currently a senior in my undergrad (majoring in biology and chemistry) and I am beginning to contact PIs about possible openings in their labs for M.S. students (I do not plan on pursuing a doctorate unless it becomes necessary). I am struggling with how to decide if a particular lab will be of interest to me and if it will help me post-degree when looking for a job/career. I still do not know what I want to do career-wise, but I am looking for a M.S. that will make me employable, but also give me options to decide where I would like to go and what direction to take.

My primary interests are in community ecology and species interactions, specifically related to plants. I have no particular area or types of plants I am most interested in, but I do have some experience with salt marshes. I love field work, but I also enjoy the balance of being in a lab as well.

What it comes down to is I am interested in several different types of labs, such as ones that are very focused on field work and answer questions about the climate and how that is affecting our ecosystems, but also labs that focus more on the genetic aspect and mapping plant phylogenies. I had never planned on going into genetics/evolution before, but now that I am learning more about it, I find it to be interesting and see the potential for a more integrative biology career.

My main concern is that if I go a more lab related, genetics/evolution route for my M.S., I will be stuck on a lab track and end up a lab zombie spending the rest of my life writing code and that I won’t be able to make the jump back to more hands-on aspects of ecology that I really enjoy.

So what path did you guys take and what are you doing now? Is there a route you would suggest for someone who is unsure?


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