One of the great perks of this program is the weekly career development seminars and skills workshops. My personal favorites were the seminars by Professor Schow and Professor Valentine as well as the graduate school panel.
It was very interesting to hear about about Professor Schow’s experience in industry as a researcher versus in an academic institution, as well as how he ended up choosing between schools and different careers. And even though I didn’t understand all of the presentation, Professor Schow gave a great overview of his field and research. For Professor Valentine’s talk, I really enjoyed her emphasis on how random and nonlinear the future could be. She stressed the importance of creating opportunities and asking questions. Overall, it was pretty encouraging to hear that professors too had times in their lives where they weren’t sure or couldn’t choose, especially as I approach the end of my undergraduate education.
The graduate school panel was super helpful in that I got a better sense of what graduate school life is like and there was a ton of great advice. The panel emphasized the importance of flexibility and time management. In addition, they stressed the importance of choosing a good advisor and a healthy lab environment. Being able to ask 6 STEM students about graduate school was a very helpful and eye opening experience!
Overall, my favorite part about all these seminars and panels is learning about the many different ways people ended up at UCSB. Although it’s obvious, it’s always reassuring to remember that there are so many ways to go about one’s career. These seminars and panels also serve as a great reminder that life does not happen 100% according to plan or formula; there are failures and huge moments of uncertainty, along with great opportunities to learn and meet wonderful people.