So you want to be a botanist! Here’s how to do it in 20 easy steps*!
Step 1. Be a curious child. It’s helpful if you’re also raised in the country. Explore outside and be fascinated by nature.
Step 2. Love science. Love it madly and without reservation. Soak up everything you can and ask too many questions.
Step 3. Decide early on that you want to be a paleontologist when you grow up.
Step 4. Be told early on that you can’t actually be a paleontologist when you grow up.
Step 5. Reassess your life goals. Decide that science is still awesome and that you’ll decide on a career later.
Step 6. Take all of the science classes your high school offers and decide that you want to study something that people think is really hard, like brain surgery or rocket science.
Step 7. Graduate from high school and head to a really nice college.
Step 8. Major in environmental science and try to figure out what you really love.
Step 9. Have an eccentric geology professor who reminds you that you can actually be a paleontologist.
Step 10. Take an ecology class and realize that field work is one of your favorite things.
Step 11. Take a field botany course and realize that plants are pretty cool.
Step 12. Get a paleontology internship and be the only biologist among geologists. Extol the wonders of trees to them.
Step 13. Graduate from a really nice college and apply to graduate schools.
Step 14. Only get into one Master’s program. It’s your last choice but go anyway.
Step 15. Sit down with your advisor and be told that you’ll be doing paleoclimate with plant fossils.
Step 16. Start working on your thesis and really enjoy it.
Step 17. Finish up your thesis and start to hate it.
Step 18. Get another paleontology internship. Do more paleoclimate with plant fossils.
Step 19. Decide that you don’t hate your research anymore and apply to PhD programs.
Step 20. Visit a Pleistocene fossil site and realize that you’re more interested in the paleoecology and paleobotany than the mammoths.
Congratulations! You’re a botanist!
*Results may vary.