How We Came to be Here - A Story in Three Parts
This week STS will be sharing stories of coming to careers in STEM fields. We hope we can offer three different perspectives on finding your career path, navigating higher education, and deciding how and when your journey needs to change. We’d love to hear any and all of your stories about finding your calling or your struggles/victories if you’re still trying to figure it out right now. Please share! It’s important for all of us (especially those in high school and undergrad) to know that there is no single, best way to approach this crazy adventure. For Part 1, which is Rachel's story, click here. For Part 2, which is Chelsea’s story, click here.
|Can I do it on my own?|
|New Mexico has Whataburger! |
Milkshakes + Fries help with
grad school frustrations.
Within 11 days I went from inquiring about the posting, to interviewing, to applying to NMSU, to acceptance. All of a sudden I had a plan and only a few months before moving across the country to start working on research that summer. Sure, it was intimidating going from spending most of my time in bed watching Netflix to leading a team of undergrads in designing and conducting experiments, but it sure was just what I needed to jump start my enthusiasm and motivation! I cannot say enough good things about my academic experience during my Master’s. I had a supportive advisor who taught me to be more confident and self reliant as a researcher. I found time to travel and attend conferences. I started taking more and more applied statistics courses which opened my eyes how useful such knowledge was to scientists. By the time I finished 2 ½ years later, I was emerging a much more self-assured, competent scientist.
|Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland|
While searching for programs I was eager to incorporate my newfound interest in statistics with my established background in biology/ecology. I sent applications to Biostatistics, Biomathematics, Ecology, and Statistics programs, unsure of exactly what path I wanted to take, or even what was available. I even applied to a program at UC Davis which had the added appeal of Rachel’s lovely presence! Penn State piqued my interest when I stumbled across this site for a Center for Statistical Ecology and Environmental Statistics. Oddly enough, this center no longer exists, but I had already applied and been accepted when I found out! I was reluctant initially to accept a position in a purely statistical department, but talking to the graduate advisors, current students, and several professors during my recruitment visit that reassured me that I would have ample opportunity to incorporate an interdisciplinary approach. This was exactly what I needed to solidify my decision. Now I’m in my second semester as a statistics grad student with no regrets about my switch in fields.
I hope everyone has enjoyed our series on our respective paths to where we are now. Navigating life, school, and careers can be rough and we want you to know that lots of people struggle with finding a path. If you would like to share your own experiences, or even guest post for us, let us know! Until next time, check out these pictures of my besties and me at Mount St Helen's.