5 Tips for Success: STEM Majors
With the new school year starting shortly for some, and having already started for others, I thought the most appropriate topic for this month's post would be tips for success. Here are a 5 tips on how to have a successful and accomplished undergraduate career as a STEM majors!
1. PUT THE BOOKS DOWN (sometime)
One of the biggest misconceptions students (both STEM and non-STEM majors) have about being a STEM majors, is the notion that you have to have a PERFECT GPA to be successful, and it's simply NOT TRUE! Although good grades are looked at favorably, I have learned that grades ARE NOT everything. I been told by numerous college advisors, internships coordinators and professors, that they prefer Student A, who has a 3.5 GPA and a ton of research experience, over Student B, who has a 4.0 and no experience in their field. So PUT THE BOOKS DOWN (sometime) and spend some time building your resume/CV. You can do so by volunteering in a research lab on campus, and/or a local organization/non-profit in your field.
2. BALANCE RESEARCH & OUTREACH
One questions/request I have seen more and more on applications is "discuss your experience with communicating scientific research to the public." I have always felt that it was not only important to conduct good sound scientific research, but to also be able to effectively communicate your research to non-scientist in an engaging way, and it appears that more and more STEM focused internships, scholarships, and fellowship programs feel the same way! I suggest volunteering a few hours a month with a local non-profit organization within your field. In addition to being a good addition to your resume/CV, it's also rewarding to be able to speak with young students and/or adults about things your passionate about, and possibly expand their career interests!
3. GO TO SCIENTIFIC CONFERENCES
One of my favorite things to do is attend scientific conferences! Conferences give you the opportunity to present your research and receive feedback from professionals in your field, NETWORK with professionals and your fellows peers, and learn about new innovative research being conducted in your field and where it is being conducted (i.e. what lab, university, and/or professor is conducting the research). As if that wasn't enough to sell you on scientific conferences, most conferences also offer numerous scholarships/funding opportunities for undergraduate, graduate, and early career scientist to attend for FREE! In addition to holding their annual conferences in some beautiful places, such as Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Canada, California, etc. So basically you get to travel, present research, meet amazing people in your field and it can all be for FREE! GO apply for a conferecne, NOW!
4. FIND SOME MENTORS
I can honestly say, I wouldn't be where I am in my career today if it wasn't for my PHENOMENAL mentors! Mentors can be crucial in expanding your professional network, exposing you to new opportunities (such as internships, scholarships, and much more!), reading over personal statement essays, writing strong letters of recommendations, giving advice, etc. I cannot stress enough the importance of good mentorship, soooo find a mentor, ASAP!!
BIG S/O TO MY MENTORS, YOU GUYS ARE THE BEST!!!
5. APPLY! APPLY! APPLY!
One of the best pieces of advice that I've received from one of my mentors is to ALWAYS APPLY, even if you think your not qualified for the position. The best case scenario is that you are selected, and the worst case is that you aren't selected. Even if you aren't selected the first time, having already applied, may increase your chances of being selected if you reapply for the position/opportunity during the next cycle of applications! Sooo start filling out applications and DON'T stop until you get the opportunity/position that you desire!
I hope you've found these tips useful, and good luck to all the college students, YOU GOT THIS!!