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.
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.
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 to 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.
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 to work smart:
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:
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.
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.