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What does luck mean to you in your career?

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What does luck mean to you in your career?

Postby Parker » Tue Jul 07, 2015 11:11 pm

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/3 ... learn.html

This article claims that:

unlucky people miss chance opportunities because they are too focused on looking for something else. They go to parties intent on finding their perfect partner and so miss opportunities to make good friends. They look through newspapers determined to find certain types of job advertisements and as a result miss other types of jobs. Lucky people are more relaxed and open, and therefore see what is there rather than just what they are looking for.


I have certainly been at both ends of the spectrum. Focused too much on one thing and missed something else.... Didn't notice a great opportunity when it was staring me in the face... But I have also been very lucky and found opportunities that a lot of other people missed.. Not sure if i would call it luck but it's generally been true for me. The more I care about something, there is a bigger chance that I might screw it up somehow. The job interviews, projects, presentations that I performed really well on tended to be ones were for one reason or another i cared just a tad less about. I still cared enough to do a good job, but not to the point where I was nervous about screwing up.

Do you agree with this article or disagree? I haven't read the author's book and this is not to be an endorsement of the author. I am wondering what people think about the idea.
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Re: What does luck mean to you in your career?

Postby PG » Wed Jul 08, 2015 3:56 am

I do agree with the article in the sense that I am convinced that luck has a big impact on your career as well as it has on science and on life in general. However skill and knowledge from the individual greatly impacts the probability of being lucky as well as to realise that he has been lucky and to do something with it.

First an example of luck in science. The discovery of penicillin was initially luck (forgetting to clean away bacterial cultures) but then required skill and knowledge by Alexander Fleming to understand that he had discovered something important and proceed from that point. Someone else might just have thrown those samples away.

It is similar in careers. If you happen to make a networking call the same day as a company have made a decision that they are going to hire someone for a position that happens to be a good fit for you that is luck. However if you hadnt used you skills and knowledge to make that call you hadnt been lucky.

When I was finishing up my PhD training a start up company was started based on findings that had been done in that research group while I was a student. This was the start of my industry career and was of course at least partially luck. However, I made the decision to join that research group and I was one of the persons who had a good colloboration with the person responsible for the discovery that resulted in starting the company. I was then able to use that position to move forward in my career despite the fact that the company no longer exists while others did not move on in industry careers for different reasons. My actions impacted both the probability of being lucky and the outcome.
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Re: What does luck mean to you in your career?

Postby D.X. » Wed Jul 08, 2015 8:30 am

"Luck is when preparation meets with opportunity" - Seneca.

In my career, it has been the preparation, be it self-development, experience, networking, etc. that has allowed me to grasp opportunity.

Keeping an open mind and awareness helps with finding the opportunity.

So with that.....Good luck!

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Re: What does luck mean to you in your career?

Postby Dick Woodward » Wed Jul 08, 2015 10:17 am

And if we are quoting, Louis Pasteur said "In the fields of observation chance favors only the prepared mind." In other words, keep your eyes and mind open - you'll be surprised how lucky you may get.

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Re: What does luck mean to you in your career?

Postby Rich Lemert » Wed Jul 08, 2015 10:40 am

Luck definitely plays a role in your career. Luck can determine, for example, where you do your undergraduate - and your graduate studies. It can play a role in your working on project 'A' for your dissertation rather than project 'B'. And it can certainly play a role in you working for company (or university) 'X' instead of 'Y'. In short, luck in many ways controls the specifics of your life.

Sitting over all this luck, however, is preparation and choice. Your decision to study science, for instance, is not luck. Your pursuit of the PhD is likewise not luck. The fact that you're working in science is not luck. All of the luck in the world is not going to get you a research position anywhere if you don't have the necessary background.

I like to compete in Toastmasters speech contests. Last year I had the 'misfortune' of competing against our eventual representative to the world championship in the first round of the contest. That was luck. The fact that I was in the contest in the first place - that was preparation and interest. The fact that I've improved my speaking and was able to advance another couple of rounds in the contest - that's also preparation.

I can't control 'luck', but I can certainly control those attributes that allow me to be in a position to take advantage of whatever 'luck' comes my way.
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Re: What does luck mean to you in your career?

Postby Dave Walker » Wed Jul 08, 2015 10:47 am

Rich Lemert wrote:I can't control 'luck', but I can certainly control those attributes that allow me to be in a position to take advantage of whatever 'luck' comes my way.


I'm a firm believer in this, and I believe it's echoed in just about every reply here. In sales (and in job hunting), there are things you can control and things you can't. Luck plays an enormous part in our daily lives (you might even call it "chance" intstead of luck to be cynical about it). You can't control whether someone wants to meet with you for an informational interview, or even if they want to read your email at all!

But what you can control is how many people you contact. And how persistent you are. Needless to say, these two qualities are the only way to speed up a job search every single time.
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Re: What does luck mean to you in your career?

Postby Ken » Thu Jul 09, 2015 5:08 pm

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Re: What does luck mean to you in your career?

Postby P.C. » Fri Jul 10, 2015 8:57 am

There is luck, and there is improving your odds.
"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education" - Mark Twain
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Re: What does luck mean to you in your career?

Postby Dave Jensen » Fri Jul 10, 2015 12:59 pm



Great article Ken! Glad you are still hanging out on the Forum.

Here's another one on the same topic,

http://sciencecareers.sciencemag.org/career_magazine/previous_issues/articles/2003_10_17/nodoi.3344836646755867070

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