Challenge Course!

One of my favorite parts about grad school is that I get to be part of the SMART program every summer. The SMART program hosts 20-30 undergraduate interns in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) areas to come work on our campus for 10 weeks. Basically, each student gets to have an individual project in a lab in order to get a taste of what a life in science/grad school is like. They also have a ton of fun weekend/evening activities to get a taste of what life in Colorado is like too. So it’s kind of awesome.

It’s kind of awesome for us grad mentors too because our job includes: mentoring the students in different scientific techniques as well as science writing (they have to write a proposal, a paper, give a presentation and a poster), being a resource about what grad school/a science career is like, being the people students come to (generally I think we are more approachable then the heads of the program) when there is a problem in the lab or with their roommates/etc so that we can help them/find someone else to help them, and… hanging out with them. Yeah… our job “requires” us to go eat some lunches and dinners with them and then take them around Colorado! It’s kind of awesome. I love my job in the summer. And I love the SMART students. They are always super fun and excited and really smart (I guess that’s why it’s called the SMART program… ;))

This picture is from a challenge course I did with the SMART students last weekend. It was a lot of fun and we got to spend some time getting to know each other and doing crazy activities together. In this picture, another one of the grad mentors, M, and I climbed up this huge ladder (called the giant’s ladder). It was the scariest of everything we did that day for me so I can’t believe we actually made it to the top. I was so proud of myself.

Anyway, this is by far one of the coolest parts about being a grad student for me (yeah sure, being able to set your own hours, looking at coolness under fancy microscopes, and being at the forefront of research in your field are pretty cool too but I absolutely love helping these students get excited about their science/passions). It reminds me that there is a bigger picture out there and makes me feel whole.

What is your favorite part about your job? Or, if you hate your job, what is your least favorite part about your job? What is something you are passionate about? Let’s discuss!

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One thought on “Challenge Course!

  1. My favorite part of my job has to be that since all the projects around here are new (and slightly ridiculous), there are no established procedures for some of the tests they want done, so I get to take samples and just play with my instruments until I figure it out. It can be incredibly frustrating (and will sometimes bring about an “I hate my job”), but overall it’s really cool to have the freedom to just mess with stuff the way I do.

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