martedì, dicembre 09, 2014

A professional life. Chapter 2 – The Black Hole

(An introduction )
I want to follow the advice of a CEO. Pull in your professional history, reflect on it several times and come up with a captivating report, overtaking a little the boring summaries of a CV. I will take this challenge splitting the story in different chapters. This is the first release of chpter number two. It tells about the troubles of my first academic research.
Follow the tag “professional bio” to get all the chapters. 

By the end of the university, I had become a top student. The top results had become my standard result over the last two years of my Mass Communication program. If that had not been enough to enhance my self confidence, the top results came together with my first job assignments. I was therefore very confident about my final research. Let's say I was ambitious about it. Unfortunately, my confidence was based on wrong assumptions.

Suddenly, I realized that I was a devoted student, but I had no idea – really, not one bloody idea – to write about. I had become a master in reporting someone else idea, but none of these ideas were mine, none belonged to my world. I had never read a book beyond the ones recommended, I had never dared to talk to someone on the field, I had never collected an original statistics about on-going trends.

I had the feelings that I would have never have written any thing worthwhile. I had no positive vibrations about doing research; only negative sensations about a book I was supposed to give birth to. I felt so little in front of the magnitude of the task that the depression took over. A deep, dark depression. Literally, I saw everything black. I was so discomforting that no one, not even my best friends, could stand me longer than five minutes. Horrible.

Luckily enough, as a supervisor I had a professor who did not mind about over charging his students. In the initial short meetings, he was insensitive enough to ignore my depression, kick off my stupid proposals and throw in a massive empirical research about the communication of science on the Italian mass media. “Do you feel like inquiring into science communication? - he said – Well, first let's have a look at what is going on. Get the five main Italian newspapers, select the copies of the last six months and scan how and where genetics and biotechnology are reported on the national media”.

The initial task was massive but easy. So easy that even a fully depressed teenager could accomplish it. I took my mind to the library, on average ten hours a day, and I kept my mind so busy that it forgot about the depression. I was exhausted but I was able again to stop by my sister to get a coffee early in the morning and step out for a beer late in the evening. I was not simply able to talk. I was able to talk about my topic. Slowly, reading over and over again my news, I realized that I actually knew more about them than most of the people around, including my professor to a certain extent. If I were Joyce, I could call it “Epifania” :-)

Well, I have never become Joyce since then, but I am still proud of the story that I worked out. The narrative parallel that I traced to connect the news-making on genetics and biotechnology with some literary archetype was original. No on had ever figured it out before. It was a moment of full joy and total happiness.

I can still remember the first day off I took after a never ending rush of several months among libraries and video archives.  I wen to the Cinque Terre in Liguria. I felt the happiest man of the world. I stared at the fishermen harbor in Rio Maggiore and began to reflect on my time off right after the graduation. I came up with a plan. Of course, the plan did not come to work. My plans often work indeed, but hardly ever the way I originally conceived them. While I was thinking about a fluid word ahead, my first serious job interview was scheduled.