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A career in science starts with an apprenticeship


Giving advice to young scientists
Francis Crick Scientist
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It’s very difficult to give advice because we have this, of course, for the young people who come here once a year or so to the Salk [Institute for Biological Studies], because the Salk has a… a thing one… one Saturday, I think, where they have pupils from the local high schools come, selected ones, and they get some talks and shown around labs and what goes on. Well, what one tends to say is rather platitudinous. You say, you shouldn’t go into science unless you’re really deeply interested in it, unless you feel strongly, because the work is very demanding. I mean, you have to work long hours and so on… you don’t… necessarily get paid very well, certainly at the beginning and… and unless you’re really vitally interested in it you… you would… you know, you wouldn’t… you’d want to go on and do something else. So, that’s one of the things that one does. When you come down to more practical things, well you… you…they… you should say well… I think it depends on the individual person and then you have to ask them which bit are they interested in? How mathematical are they? How… do they like using their hands? And things like that. Then you have to go on from what they say to give them some… perhaps some advice in that direction. But really, when it comes to more detailed advice as to about careers, as to which university they should try go to, I wouldn’t be the person best qualified to do that. There are people who do… do give that advice.

The late Francis Crick, one of Britain's most famous scientists, won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962. He is best known for his discovery, jointly with James Watson and Maurice Wilkins, of the double helix structure of DNA, though he also made important contributions in understanding the genetic code and was exploring the basis of consciousness in the years leading up to his death in 2004.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: Salk Institute for Biological Studies

Duration: 1 minute, 23 seconds

Date story recorded: 1993

Date story went live: 24 January 2008