Find Your Path

Find Your Path

Unconventional Lessons from 36 Leading Scientists and Engineers

By Daniel Goodman

Scientists offer personal accounts of the challenges, struggles, successes, U-turns, and satisfactions encountered in their careers in industry, academia, and government.





Scientists offer personal accounts of the challenges, struggles, successes, U-turns, and satisfactions encountered in their careers in industry, academia, and government.

This insightful book offers essential life and career lessons for newly minted STEM graduates and those seeking a career change. Thirty-six leading scientists and engineers (including two Nobel Prize winners) describe the challenges, struggles, successes, satisfactions, and U-turns encountered as they established their careers. Readers learn that there are professional possibilities beyond academia, as contributors describe the paths that took them into private industry and government as well as to college and university campuses. They discuss their varying preferences for solitary research or collaborative teamwork; their attempts to achieve work-life balance; and unplanned changes in direction that resulted in a more satisfying career. Women describe confronting overt sexism and institutional gender bias; scientists of color describe the experience of being outsiders in their field.

One scientist moves from startup to startup, enjoying a career of serial challenges; another spends decades at one university; another has worked in academia, industry, and government. Some followed in the footsteps of parents; others were the first in their family to go to college. Many have changed fields, switched subjects, or left established organizations for something new. Taken together, these essays make it clear that there is not one path to a profession in science, but many.

ContributorsStephon Alexander, Norman Augustine, Wanda Austin, Kimberly Budil, Wendy Cieslak, Jay Davis, Tamara Doering, Stephen D. Fantone, Kathleen Fisher, David Galas, Kathy Gisser, Sandra Glucksmann, Daniel Goodman, Renee Horton, Richard Lethin, Christopher Loose, John Mather, Richard Miles, Paul Nielsen, Michael O'Hanlon, Deirdre Olynick, Jennifer Park, Ellen Pawlikowski, Ethan Perlstein, Richard Post, William Press, Beth Reid, Jennifer Roberts, Jessica Seeliger, David Spergel, Ellen Stofan, Daniel Theobald, Shirley Tilghman, Jami Valentine, Z. Jane Wang, Rainer Weiss


$19.95 T ISBN: 9780262537544 408 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 160 b&w illus.


  • An absorbing volume.


  • It's the simplicity of the concept and the richness of the monologues that make Find Your Path such an inspiring read. Don't be put off by the title – this isn't one of those trivial airport self-help manuals. It's an important work of required reading for anyone starting on a career at the cutting edge of technology.



  • Find Your Path offers a compelling look at the careers paths of 36 scientists today. This book is a must-read for graduate students wondering “What's next?” or for anyone interested in understanding the challenges and opportunities in pursuing a career in science.”

    Miriam Gamoran Sherin

    Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education, Northwestern University

  • “Throughout life, important people and choices will shape your career more than raw academic aptitude. As described in these 36 different and wonderful life stories, a wealth of career opportunities awaits those who are able to understand this important life lesson.”

    Woodward Yang

    Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Harvard University and Founding Faculty Director of the Harvard Master in Design Engineering Program

  • Find Your Path is an inspiring and enlightening read. STEM role models are the best way for all of us to learn about how we can make a difference in the world.

    Derek Lidow

    former CEO of International Rectifier and author of Building on Bedrock

  • “Goodman has captured a compelling set of career stories from a fascinating group of scientists and engineers. These diverse innovators and leaders are models for us all, with their tales of challenges and triumphs, perseverance and risk taking, and plain good and bad luck.

    Roger Falcone

    Professor of Physics, University of California, Berkeley