Tag Archives: advice

How to find STEM Internships!

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Hi everyone!

Not only are internships very important in terms of resume building, but it can be so much more than that! Internships are great places to network with colleagues in your chosen field and to gain a unique perspective on the inner workings of your discipline! However, as great as that may sound, I remember feeling really overwhelmed when searching for internships during my junior year of undergrad.

Well, fear not! Because finding internships is actually quite easy if you know where to look. Of course, I say this with the small disclaimer that these tips are mainly centered around STEM internships in the US, but hopefully these tips can at least lend a hand to anyone looking for a cool experience for the summer.

So, I’m going to separate my tips into separate categories!

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Grad Courses as an Undergrad

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shrug_answer_101_xlargeTowards the end of my undergrad career, I got a little bored with my typical classes and I was in need of some units to qualify for financial aid. So, during a brief morning of possible insanity, I decided to sign up for a grad course. Fortunately, that brief moment of insanity didn’t go horrible wrong because the grad courses I took as an undergrad were probably the most fun out of all the classes that I took during university.

Not only were they fun, but I feel it was also pretty beneficial to my academic career. First,  it was a nice way to minimize the culture shock of transitioning from the learning style needed in an undergrad class to that which is needed in grad classes. Not to mention, it probably also showed initiative when I was applying to internships and grad programs, because it showed admissions faculty that I was willing to try something new and was dedicated to learning topics in my field.

Of course, I can see how intimidating it could be. There are also many questions that are unanswered until you actually take the class such as how different is it from undergrad courses? How much harder will it be? Are the tests worse? What is it like being in a class with a bunch of older grad students? Do they judge you? Etc. Etc. Etc.

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Relieving Test Anxiety

fbf46c36277067a5de185cd33f6ec639Hello, my fellow students. Unfortunately, I greet you during that dreaded time of the year: finals week. And yeah, sure, the long nights of studying are pretty bad, admittedly. But, in my opinion, what can be even worse is that little voice in you head that that starts speaking up right before the final. You know the one. It says horrible things such, “You studied the wrong material,” or even, “I bet you’re going to forget everything you studied the moment you sit down!” Gosh. What a jerk that voice is. 😦

Anyway, I feel that a lot of the time, it’s this test anxiety that makes finals week so nerve-wracking, scary and stressful! However, over my test-taking years I’ve found a few techniques that have helped me reduce my anxiety and go into the exam room feeling focused, awake and confident! Listed below are my techniques in hopes that this helps you all have the best finals week ever! Kick those test’s butt! ❤

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Surviving Lab Classes

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daa412c3f51cf7c76447dfb4fc8a2480As a STEM major, there is a high probability that you’re going to have at least one class that has some sort of lab component. Whether it’s a three to four hour lab once a week or in the worst case (read: as a chemistry major), two four-hour labs a week. 😦

Of course, the difference between lab-based courses and lecture-based courses is that there is a significant portion of your grade is no longer based on exams and problem sets. Rather, a large chunk is now based on three other things: (1) how accurately and efficiently can you do your experiment in the allotted time, (2) how well you can remember your lab manual for quizzes, as well as (3) how well you can write it up (read: defend your results) on your lab report.

Unfortunately, for those that are starting on their first serious lab courses, it’s always these components that can sometimes be the trickiest to master. So, having survived quite a few lab courses as a chemistry major, here is my take on how I survived my lab courses in hopes that it helps you too! 🙂

Good luck & science away!

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Choosing a Grad School?

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So, when I was applying to grad school, pretty much my only deciding factor was 1) did they have research I was interested in? 2) where was it located? and 3) did they offer a fee waiver? (No seriously, I didn’t apply to MIT’s Earth Science Department because of this). Now, admittedly, these are very important factors and tend to be some of the main criteria that influence decisions on where to apply/attend. However, I found after actually visiting the schools I was accepted to, this might have been a pretty naive way of making such a big decision.

Of course, what makes a grad school worth attending is completely up to the student whose applying and what they deem important to them. Nevertheless, I’m providing a list of five criteria (in no particular order) that eventually became important to me when I was comparing different schools.

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How to Succeed in Hard Science Classes

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So I think at least once in everyone’s college career there is that one class that just becomes the bane of your existence. Either the professor cannot explain the subject well enough, or the material itself is practically in another language (Read: Physics). For me as a chemistry major, these classes were E&M Physics, Chemical Thermodynamics, Multivariable Calculus and the NMR Spectroscopy part of Organic Chemistry. Evil! Evil! Evil!

Yet, somehow I passed! Not always with a perfect A, but close enough that my GPA survived! 🙂

How did I manage, you ask! Here are my tips and tricks on surviving those evil, difficult classes!

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Applying to Grad School – Jump Starting your Personal Statement

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Personal statements are the absolute WORST! Be it for college or grad school applications, it can be extremely tricky to sell yourself in however many pages schools allot nowadays. It is especially hard for grad schools because you need to somehow summarize all those fancy qualifications you have while making it a bit more interesting than a simple reading of your resume. Ugh. It kind of just makes you want to put them off and procrastinate for as long as possible, huh?

NO! STAHP! DON’T DO IT! DON’T SUCCUMB TO THE NEED TO PROCRASTINATE!

Phew! You still with me here?

Trust me, procrastinating is the last thing you want to do! In fact, having your personal statement done early enough to get a couple of proofreads in can make a world of difference! But how can you get the motivation to even start it?  Hmmm…

Well, here’s some tips and tricks for getting a jump start on writing your personal statement! As the title suggests, I warn that this advice is directed towards grad school applications, but some of the tips are applicable to undergrad applications as well! So behold, personal statement tips (specifically for grad school applications)!

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Grad School Jargon 101

So, I remember when I was applying to different grad schools, there was a lot of jargon on the departmental admission pages, like “Comps,” “Candidacy,” “Assistantship,” etc. I pretty much just assumed I’d figure it out as I went along, and I did, sorta. However, it might have made my life a bit easier if I knew what any of these things meant ahead of time, instead of learning it during orientation when they were explaining to me how to get my PhD…

So, below are some common terms that you’ll see as you look through grad school admission websites and what they mean. I will admit, I had to look some of these up myself because they aren’t relevant to my program (or they are relevant, but I figured I’d just learn what it was last minute :3), so bear with me. Hence the reason for sources! Please correct me if I incorrectly defined anything or let me know if there is anything I should add!

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General Grad School FAQ

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Deciding to attend grad school can be a very scary decision to make. This is especially true if you are the first in your family to do so. I was. I knew nothing about grad school. I didn’t even know it was an option for me until more than half way through my college career, yikes. Yet, somehow, here I am.

Nevertheless, finding answers to all my questions was quite difficult. Either it was personal and I didn’t want to open up that much to my colleagues or I just thought the answer was so obvious that I would look like, for lack of a better word, a dumbass.

Welp, fear no more. Here are some commonly asked questions I’ve found are commonly asked about grad school, yet never truly discussed in pulic. If there are any that you feel I’ve left out, please leave a comment below and add to the conversation!

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Applying to Grad School – Emailing Professors 101

Original Post; Image from Google Search

So it was around this time of month that I had started emailing potential research advisers at the various universities I wanted to attend. I wanted to make sure that before I actually applied to the schools, the professors I liked were accepting students. I mean, there’s no point on waiting an application fee on a school that doesn’t can’t offer you the research you want, right?

Sounds simple enough, until you start writing the email and stare at a blank screen for hours.

Does it make sense? Do I sound desparate? Is it too boring? Is it too long? Will they even read it? What if I sound stupid! Ahhhh! *runs in circles*

Well, having been there merely a year ago, I give to you the recipe for a good introductory email to potential research advisers!

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