To be honest, when I was in high school, applying to engineering schools, I did not give much thought to what a day in a life of a scientist or an engineer might look like. There are lots of things that I did not give much thought to (like why I was applying to engineering schools in the first place), but if I were to come up with what my naive brain would have thought back then, a typical day in a life of a scientist would sound something like this.
You get in to work early and pour yourself a second cup of tea (because you already had your first one with breakfast at home) while quickly checking email. You glance at the To-Do list lying on your desk and smile with anticipation of an exciting day ahead of you. Because every day in your life is exciting! How could it not be, if your job is to do meaningful research in a state-of-the-art lab? You are developing a cutting edge device that will be invaluable for treatment of cancer. Your work is contributing greatly to the world, and you couldn't be more satisfied.
After answering a few emails regarding that paper you are going to publish next month, you put on your lab coat and head to the lab. Some of your coworkers are already there, looking quite busy and engaged with their own work at their work stations. Which are not really work stations, but perfectly organized lab benches, where you waste no time finding the supplies you need for today's experiment. You set up your experiment while chatting with the scientist across the lab from you about that party you all went to last Friday. Because your work allows you to keep sane hours, and you have time for things like parties and hobbies.
You concentrate hard on your work, monitoring the experiment while planning your next steps in this project. At lunch time, you go out to eat with your coworkers because you get along with them splendidly. You talk about current events and things happening in your lives. No one complains about work because what is there to complain about?
You get back from lunch, and head back to the lab, maybe checking your email one more time. You take your laptop to the lab so that you can work on that paper while waiting for the experiment to finish. You are so engrossed in your work that you don't notice how time flies. Before you know it, it's time to get out of the office and go to your tango class, which is conveniently located only five blocks away. You check your email one last time, update your To-Do list so that you are ready to start right away in the morning, turn off your computer and head out.
Needless to say, this isn't exactly how a day in my life as a scientist/engineer turned out to be. Stay tuned for a post on a REAL day in a life of a scientist, coming soon.