Black History Month Edition: My Experiences Participating in Research Training, Mentoring Programs & Science Organizations

In honor of Black History Month I was inspired to share my experiences participating in research training, mentoring programs and science organizations. I am grateful for all of my experiences and mentors that helped me become the woman in science that I am today. Coming from an inner city neighborhood and entering a big rural state university was like a dream. My main goal was to get a great education and learn as much as possible to prepare for a STEM career. Everything after that was an added bonus. I joined science organizations and reached out to science peers for support. For the first time I was able to see people in STEM that looked like me and I was determined to use the many resources that my university offered.

I participated in science programs such as the Women and Science and Engineering Orientation and the Minority Undergraduate Research Experience Program. These programs taught me the importance of leadership and strong mentoring.  I gained research experience, scientific knowledge and confidence that I could pursue a science career. This inspired me to use my science background not only to include research but include helping other scientists, especially underrepresented groups.

I encourage everyone to seek mentoring, the earlier the better. If you are looking for science mentors check out research training programs, mentoring programs and science organizations. There is a mentor for everyone. As a Gates Millennium Scholar (GMS) later I went on to become a mentor in the GMS program. Then when I entered graduate school I served on the Graduate Student Association to help first-year graduate students transition.

I am passionate about helping the next generations of scientists. STEM is challenging and fun, but rewarding. At times in the midst of progress I was faced with moments of negativity. There were people who told me that I did not belong and that I would not achieve my goals. I did not let their negativity stop me. I’m sure most of us have experienced negativity or felt alone in science at one point. Don’t let that stop you. Keep moving forward, pave the way and soon there will be others like you in your career. Continue reading Black History Month Edition: My Experiences Participating in Research Training, Mentoring Programs & Science Organizations

Finding Mentors + My Top Mentee Tips

In my previous post I shared my insight on the different types of mentors and how they have helped me on my journey as a woman in science. No matter what stage you are in your career you can benefit from having a mentor and being a mentor.

Just like many relationships; I have found the best mentors when I was not looking. I was at the right place at the right time. I remember one particular story of finding a mentor. I was at a National Society of Black Engineers Convention and I attended a GEM Consortium Workshop: “Why you should go to graduate school?” I was so impressed, inspired and motivated after the workshop and I realized I found my mentor (the presenter). After the workshop was over I introduced myself and asked him to be my mentor and he said yes. He gave me great advice and the top two takeaway messages I learned were: Remember what you came for and this (insert hardship/challenge you are facing) could be a blessing in disguise.

If you find yourself in a similar situation or find someone who would be a great mentor ask them for advice. People love giving advice. In my experiences, most people said yes. The people who said no were people who were super busy or I learned that they were not a good match for me.

Finding Mentors: Continue reading Finding Mentors + My Top Mentee Tips

Different Types of Mentors and My Mentoring Experiences

In my last blog post I shared how self-mentoring and understanding what you need in a mentor is the first step when finding a mentor. One of my first mentors was my aunt who is an electrical engineer and she gave me so much insight on my career. In high school I had a mentor that took me under her wing and helped me work on my Gates Millennium Scholarship (GMS) Application. I was so happy when I found out I got the GMS Scholarship, especially after opening a rejection letter from my dream college. These are just two examples of how mentors played a role in my life and I am grateful that they were my mentors. Fast forward years later one of my professors told me that I will need different types of mentors.

Different Types of Mentors: Continue reading Different Types of Mentors and My Mentoring Experiences

Self-Mentoring and Understanding What you Want in a Mentor

Welcome to my preview of my mentoring series. Now that the season is warming up it is a good time to attend social events on campus to network and be a part of the community to scope out potential mentors. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you do not find a mentor right away because it takes time. Throughout my journey as a woman in STEM I had many types of mentors and have learned a lot from my mentoring experiences. Mentoring like any relationship – it is a partnership and commitment.

Self-Mentoring and Understanding What you Want in a Mentor:

1. Update myIDP tool:
The myIDP tool helps you stay organized, reevaluate and update your goals. When you update the myIDP tool you will be able to see what things you need to talk to a mentor about and what things you need to reflect on before making the next move.

2. Use your resources:
There are many resources available and many of them are free. Use the internet as a resource to find what you want in a mentor. Find articles, blogs, like The Thesis Whisperer and Tenure, She Wrote) and people (Dr. Amy Freeman, Dr. Monica Cox and Dr. Renetta Tull) who are doing what you would like to do. This is a great way to find out what career pathways you want to explore. If you are looking for a good book check out my recommended books on my useful book list and seasonal reading lists.

3. Remember your role:
When you self-mentor you are playing a double role. You are a mentor and you are a mentee. Think about the strong points you want in a mentor and focus on using these points as a way to self-mentor. This will help you be a better mentor to others and help you find the right mentor. Continue reading Self-Mentoring and Understanding What you Want in a Mentor

Resources for Scientists using MOOCs: Coursera vs Edx.org

If you have been following Mademoiselle Scientist you know that I enjoy learning. Whenever I find a resource I have to share it. My two favorite resources for online learning are Coursera.org and Edx.org. These two Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) sites are perfect if you want to learn something new now.

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After a few years of using both of these MOOC sites: Coursera.org and Edx.org I have a good feel for what they have to offer. Both sites offer tons of courses in various subjects taught by professors from universities around the world. Whether you want to earn a certificate, learn a new subject area, enhance your knowledge for your career or enroll in a multiple-course specialization unit Coursera.org and Edx.org are perfect for you.

Both MOOC sites have apps available for smartphones and tablets which make learning on-the-go easy. I prefer to use my computer to take my courses and I like to use Microsoft OneNote to take notes. It helps me keep the information organized with a digital notebook feel. 

After using both MOOCs I can honestly say you can’t go wrong with Coursera.org or Edx.org. Both will give you a great digital learning experience to help you in your career. Whether you are an undergraduate, graduate, professional or thinking about learning something new I’m sure you will find a course that fits your needs. I recommend creating an account for both to keep track of what courses are available. There are so many courses and you don’t want to miss out. Continue reading Resources for Scientists using MOOCs: Coursera vs Edx.org

Resources for Scientists: Online Learning Using Edx.org

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are online courses that make learning about different subjects accessible to all. With the internet at your fingertips you can learn a new topic/skill that will help elevate your STEM career. After taking several Coursera.org courses I decided to explore other MOOC sites and I came across Edx.org.

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Image Credit: Edx.org

Edx.org has a different look than Coursera.org and from my first glance at the site I can tell that Edx.org wants the online learning experience to be user-friendly. Before you take a course on Edx.org there is a free self-paced DemoX course that will help you get familiar with how Edx.org works. Continue reading Resources for Scientists: Online Learning Using Edx.org

Back to School Tips for College & Graduate Students (STEM Edition)

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – Back to School Time! Good luck to everyone going back to school or starting a new school this year. I wish you the best. If you are an undergraduate or graduate student this post is for you.

My Back to School Tips: Continue reading Back to School Tips for College & Graduate Students (STEM Edition)

The Real Talk about the PhD #PioneerChat Reflection:

After participating in The Real Talk about the Ph.D. #PioneerChat hosted by Dr. Monica F. Cox with guest host, Dr. Fatimah Williams Castro I have some reflections. Since I am prospective Ph.D. student I was looking forward to this discussion because I enjoy hearing people talk about their Ph.D. journeys.

To find out more about #PioneerChat, Dr. Monica Cox and Dr. Fatimah Williams Castro click here. Continue reading The Real Talk about the PhD #PioneerChat Reflection:

#DearME STEM College Student Edition: What I Would Tell My Younger Self Part II

Recently, I came across this #DearME video. The #DearME Initiative is a global Initiative started by YouTube to celebrate International Women’s Day (March 8) to empower young girls everywhere. After watching a few #DearME videos I was inspired share my #DearME STEM College Student Edition. It is important to reflect on the past to truly understand your journey. If you are a recent graduate or looking to update your myIDP tool write down the advice you would give your younger self. Think back to when you were a freshman in college. Here are the things I would tell my younger self – STEM College Student Edition:

#DearME: My Advice to My Younger Self – STEM College Student Edition:

1. It’s okay if you change your major:

When you go to college you will have an idea about what major or career you want, but things can change. After taking a few courses it is okay to explore different majors. Talk to your academic advisor and upperclassmen to see what other majors are out there. Remember your major doesn’t define you. Whether you want to become an engineer, scientist or work in public health there are many pathways to your STEM career.

2. Don’t be afraid to be assertive:

Ask questions, reach out to potential mentors and network. As a freshman this can be a bit scary, but give it a try. When you come out of your shell and start putting yourself out there people will notice. Plus you never know what opportunities you will find. If you are looking for some tips and tricks the book, Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office: 101 Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers by Lois Frankel is a good resource.

3. Explore the opportunities that STEM can take you early on:

A STEM degree can take you anywhere. Sometimes thinking about different career paths can be a bit overwhelming as a STEM college student. Take time to talk to people and explore the opportunities at your university’s career center. Whether you want to study abroad, do research or get an internship seek opportunities. Even if you are a freshman you can start.

4. Remember your hard work will pay off eventually:

Being a STEM college student is a challenge, but all the obstacles you will face are worth it. Study-a-thons, hectic schedules and 4-hour chemistry labs may seem like a lot, but you will make it. Space out your course-load so that you can have a fun course in the mix of your STEM courses. The life of a STEM college student is about balance and you will learn it before you graduate. Remember success is great, but you don’t have to break yourself getting there. There will be ups and downs, but you will get through it.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help before it is too late:

If you are having a difficult time in one of your STEM courses ask for help. Find a group of peers in your major. Groups like NSBE, SWE, SHPE and SOT are great places to start. Plus if you join these groups you can make new friends in your major and have a strong support system to help you throughout your college career.

6. Enjoy your college experience:

Even though you may have a busy life as a STEM college student make sure you have fun. Go to social events, join groups or play sports. College is not only about getting your education, but it is also about having fun. When you graduate college you want to look back and say you were able to earn your degree and enjoy your college experience.

7. Don’t let negativity get you down:

Don’t let other people’s negativity get in your way of moving forward in your STEM career. Find a group of people who get you and can help you through your tough times.

To learn more check out part I of my advice to my younger STEM self.

What would you tell your younger self as a STEM College Student? #DearME

Share below.

My Top Study Tips

Between preparing for exams, applications and attending conferences this is the time that most people have a booked up calendar. For my students reading I know that midterms are coming up so this post is for you. With the right preparation studying can be a less stressful time. When I was in college we had Study-A-Thons during the weekend before finals week. We had peer tutors, free food and even study snacks. If you don’t have this gather a group of your friends and start your own Study-A-Thon.  

My Top Study Tips: Continue reading My Top Study Tips