[ExI] the formerly rich and their larvae...

Amara Graps amara at amara.com
Tue Feb 12 05:47:43 UTC 2008

>The trick is getting one's foot in the door.  Usually that requires a
>college degree, with an advanced degree preferred.

Note to Bryan: don't put too much weight on Spike's 'Usually that
requires a college degree...'

Note to Spike: When I was 21, I got my first serious astronomy job,
working for the Voyager 2 mission Photopolarimeter team at the Jet
Propulsion Laboratory.

My previous jobs were: helping a Caltech astronomer look for asteroids at
Palomar Observatory (volunteer, 4 years), teacher's assistant for an
observational astronomy class at Saddleback Community College (1 year),
delivering phonebooks, inventory manager at 2 scientific bookstores
(2 years), Carl's Junior flipping burgers (3 years to 'lead person',
woohoo!), cleaning boats and apartments and babysitting (3 years).

Since my JPL job, I rarely got my jobs through standard channels, and
from my early twenties, my jobs drove my education, rather than the
other way around. This is a more logical way to acquire an education,
when you think about it. And yes, such an approach was not easy to give
attention to my courses sometimes. (*)


(*) I still have the letter from the UC Irvine Physics Department,
kicking me out of the B.S. program, unless I improved my grades in the
next quarter. Note to Rafal: That was the quarter I moved out of my
parent's house and was working three jobs to pay for tuition and living
costs, a pattern that was repeated several more times during my next
21 years.


Amara Graps, PhD      www.amara.com
Research Scientist, Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), Boulder, Colorado

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