Below are resources students might find helpful for preparing applications and for giving presentations.
Oral Presentations: Tips for creating effective talks can be found here.
Poster Presentations: Tips for creating technical posters can be found here.
Personal Statements: Tips for this statement can be found here.
Resumes: Tips for resumes can be found here.
LinkedIn: Tips for a LinkedIn profile are here.
Top Tips for STEM Undergraduates
- Get involved in research ASAP. More time means better experiences. Research often starts by simply attending research group meetings.
- Research groups will fight over you. If you’re passionate and a hard worker, don’t worry about getting offered an opportunity, no matter your year or level of experience.
- Hands-on experience rules. If you need to spend longer than four years and/or get less than a 4.0 GPA to do meaningful hands-on undergraduate research/projects, it’s worth it.
- Push your boundaries in your research work. It’s okay to fail and make mistakes. That’s what school is for. If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not trying hard enough.
- Be of service. It’s a proven fact that in helping others you help yourself. Tutor someone, do an hour a week in a help center, volunteer with Science Olympiad and FIRST robotics, offer to mentor a middle school or high school Science Bowl team.
- Make STEM areas relevant. Fight the stereotype that technical people can’t talk at an average level. When your friends give you THAT incredulous look when you say you’re a physics (etc.) major, have a story ready about why you like physics that’s sure to get them nodding/laughing along. Talk to your friends and family about what’s currently fascinating you. It’s contagious.
- Find a mentor. A mentor doesn’t have to be your research or academic advisor, just someone with more experience that you identify with. And it certainly doesn’t need to be formal. Mentorship can form over a series of chats or question sessions.
- Give it a try, then ask. Chances are that if you have a question so do others. In the lab, that’s not to say you shouldn’t try to figure it out first, but if you’re stuck, the quicker you’re unstuck the quicker you can make progress.
- Form study groups. As your coursework gets tougher, banding together will help. Make sure everyone’s invited. Then go do something fun together.
- Stick with it or rip off the band aid. Most STEM majors have at least three times during college that they think about changing majors or giving up. If it’s because it’s hard but you really enjoy the subject: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” If it’s because you think you might actually be more passionate about a different major, rip off the band aid and ask your mentor and/or advisor to help you make the change.
- Go to career fair before you’re actively seeking an internship or a job. That way it won’t feel foreign when it counts.
- Join a professional organization. There’s one for almost every field – IEEE, APS, etc.
- Present your work. If it doesn’t get communicated it didn’t happen.
- Do creative activities. As Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
- Help is available in all areas. Mental, career, tutoring… take advantage.
- Have fun. You’re only in college once!