Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Career evolution

I think I am experiencing a career evolution. Well, at least I observed a new role for myself within my career. Currently I am a fifth year graduate student striving toward completing a Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences... and I still feel much like a student since I believe that I need more training and advice in order to become a better scientific researcher. However, within the past month, it just hit me that I have begun to mentor other students who are also seeking a career in the sciences. I did not realize that I had actually reached a point at which others sought my opinions and advice. I have always wanted to mentor students... I just did not think I would begin to do so this soon. I have no complaints, only joy! Listed below are a couple of tidbits of advice I shared with students.

Seek help when you need it...
I came from a high school that did not adequately prepare me for many college-level courses, which made me sometimes feel a bit nervous about how I would perform relative to my classmates. Since I felt nervous, I sought out help to make sure I did the best I could in those courses by signing up for on-campus tutoring. Some may think tutoring is costly. However, many campuses offer free tutoring, so
ask around. Also, students can receive lots of help with courses by simply attending office hours with the course professor. If you cannot make it to the posted office hours, do not be too timid to request a specific appointment with your professor. Most professors are willing to meet with students who are proactive about their education. I want to emphasize that it is okay to get help when you need it; don't be shy or embarrassed. Also, don't wait too late to seek help.

By the way, attending office hours allows you to emerge as an individual from the mass of students the professor teaches. Who knows, within the time of the course you may sow the seeds for a great mentor-mentee relationship! Remember, it is never too early to establish and maintain healthy and professional relationships with people who are supportive of your academic and career endeavors.

Treat school like a full-time job...
Most of us view college as time to get away from parents, discover one's self, party, party some more, and oh yeah, learn something. True, college does allow for all of these activities, but we always have to remember the main goal of going to college is to get an education. Therefore, the best tactic I used to keep myself on track was to treat school like a full-time job and aim to be on campus from 9am-5pm. Doing what?? Well, those 8 hours of the day can be filled with studying, attending classes, getting tutoring, eating, attending office hours, resting, studying, and a little bitty amount of time for socializing... to maintain sanity. You get the point. I did this my last year of undergrad and it paid off very nice academically. I really wish I would have implemented this tactic a lot sooner.


Stasya said...

this is true - i wish i could have implemented this in the past.

I also went a high school with a poor introductry biology program - biology for freshman was really just 'game time', there were few courses...but i knew i had an interest, which was overshadowed for a time by my art ability (majored in art my first three years in college) and by my parents who knew little about it. when i finally took the biology plunge it was with a poor math background and little experience, which made me feel like an outsider- i found it hard to approach teachers for help - im going to keep your 9-5 plan in mind as i reach my upper level conservation courses this semester

Professor Thompson said...

I coordinate learning services for my university. During my research, I came across your blog. I hope to integrate it in my work with students. So I want to thank you and encourage you to continue blogging.

Welcome to Minority Scientist

I'm Minority Scientist and I started this blog to
1) share useful information to assist minorities, including women and underrepresented peoples, navigate a career in scientific research and
2) explore the world of science through the eyes of someone who
pursued a PhD in the biomedical sciences as a single parent.

In the spirit of sharing, if you find info here useful for you or someone you know... pass it on! If you would like to share information, send an email to
Minority.Scientist(at) gmail.com. Thanks!

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