Your job, found at iJOBS

Whether it is a sad or happy thought, it is true that a PhD or MS program has an end.  So what does one do after?  The number of academic jobs decline each year, and the future state of higher education is very unclear.  So what other opportunities are there for newly minted graduates?

This is exactly the question that a new Rutgers program is addressing.  iJOBS, Interdisciplinary Job Opportunities for Biomedical Scientists, provides opportunities for current graduate students to network with and learn about relevant industries beyond academia.  Implemented with Biomedical Science students, iJOBS is expanding to include students in many other academic fields.   It is a multi-year program for students, with phases of participation.  In Phase I, students participate in career fairs, workshops on skill development and similar events.  Students must accumulate a certain number of participation hours to apply for Phase II which includes more personal training and shadowing opportunities.

Why should you consider it? Because this is an opportunity for you to begin developing skills and contacts that will help you pursue a career beyond a tenure track position, such as science and health policy, business management and data analysis. The workshops alone are worth a look, including resume/cv development, interviewing skills, communicating science to politicians and networking skills.

There are certainly interesting topics for any graduate student, and I encourage everyone to consider participation in the program.  Find more information at

Enjoy Graduate School at Rutgers

Feel excited when you know you’ve been accepted to graduate school? Or feel nervous, stressed or anxious? Just don’t let your emotions get in the way of setting yourself up to succeed once your new program starts.  Here are some small tips that might help you survive and enjoy graduate school at Rutgers.  First of all,

–Expect to be busy

You are a grad student now, the assignments you’re given will be more involved, the exams you take will need more preparation, and most importantly you’ll be spending much more of your time on academic work, whether it’s on research, thesis paper, or keeping on top of your studying. You need to take responsibility especially if you’re working in a group on a large project.

–Select the work you’re really passionate about

I can’t imagine you can devote hours on end working on something you can’t stand. The truth is that you’ll grow tired of it and simply won’t put forth the endless effort that it takes to get through days and nights of studying.  The bottom line is pick something you absolutely live and breathe so that you can keep moving towards your goal.

–Don’t forget you have an advisor

I’m not sure what the situation is in other departments, but in our computer science department, each graduate student will be assigned an academic advisor and later a research advisor. Your advisor is there to help with any questions you may have regarding programs, research, faculty issues, etc. It’s advisable to set up a regular meeting with your advisor to check in and see how things are progressing for you.

–Be tolerant of your mistakes

You are a graduate student, you are learning, and it’s normal to make mistakes. Seriously, don’t be so hard on yourself. What you’re doing is admirable and difficult. The world isn’t going to come to an end because you make a mistake, the earth won’t stop rotating because your research experiments haven’t gotten inspiring results yet as you expected.

–Take time to experience life

Through your courses and busy research work, remember to take time to experience life as well. You’re a grad student and you’re also young, life is versatile, it’s not only study and work, you deserve more.  Rutgers has a fantastic location, I won’t talk more about it here, there are many great posts in this blog, I’m sure you’ll find them and know where to go to have fun in the area. And last but not least,

–Love your school

Yes, love Rutgers, love where you’re living and the school where you’re studying. You know, not everyone is as lucky as you to be accepted in. Maybe it’s not ranked number one in your field, but somehow I believe in destiny, what you get is actually what is most suitable for you. The miracle is, when you realize that, you feel happy every day, you feel proud of Rutgers, you feel lucky to be a grad student at Rutgers, and you’ll be full of confidence to overcome any difficulties that may happen during the journey.

Love your school, and enjoy your graduate life at Rutgers.

Science Policy Groups Spread Across the Nation as Grad Students Take Charge over STEM Funding and Advocacy

Started by a group of graduate students at MIT during sequestration, the National Science Policy Group is a grad student spearheaded initiative through which science policy groups across the nation work together to advocate for science-informed policymaking, the continued support of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) research, and exploration of other issues at the intersection of science and public policy. In addition to well-established science policy groups at schools like UPenn and Yale, newer groups are springing up, including at Penn State, University of Rochester, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and Rutgers University. Through monthly national and regional conference call meetings, the groups share resources, like ideas for community outreach events, and support for newer groups garnering interest at respective schools. The groups will also host large coordinated events, like Congressional visits to member school’s local representatives in Washington DC. For more information about how the initiative got started, check out this article from MIT. If you are interested in participating here at Rutgers, keep informed about group activities through the Facebook page.

A Great Study Spot

It is amazing to think that we are already more than halfway through the semester; it seems as if classes started only a short time ago! As the semester continues to move along, we are becoming increasingly busier. This means that (if you have not done so already) it is time to buckle down. If you are the type of student who needs to distance himself/herself from all distractions in order to be efficient while studying or doing schoolwork, then you most likely have a favorite spot in which you can accomplish this. However, if you are new to the Graduate School or are looking for a new place to study, consider Gardner A. Sage Library on the College Avenue Campus!

When I started my graduate career at Rutgers just a few months ago, my first official study spot was Alexander Library on the College Avenue Campus. However, I found that it was difficult to focus while I was there. The library is in general relatively crowded, and there are always people coming and people going. This tended to distract me, as I would continually look up from my work whenever someone entered the room or left the room. At this point, I decided that it would be beneficial to find a new place to study, and that is when I discovered Sage Library.

IMG_1287 (Click to enlarge)

As you can see from the photo, Sage Library is absolutely stunning. The library is actually a part of the New Brunswick Theological Seminary, and was modeled and built in the style of a fourth century Roman church! Perhaps you also noticed that the library is completely empty, meaning disturbances will be minimal. The library features three levels, and there are many different areas in which you can study. The top level features individual desks (see top right corner of photo) for those who wish to study in their own space without any distractions in sight. And yes, there is Wi-Fi!

Take a Break and Get Out!

For those of you new to Rutgers you may not be away of all the cool opportunities students can take advantage of with Rutgers Recreation.  Each semester they have numerous non-credit classes open to both undergrad and graduate students.  They also organize day trips for local recreation activities like hiking, yoga, whitewater rafting in addition to trips to visit local cities like Philadelphia and New York.

My most recent involvement was on Friday 9/30/13 when I participated in the RU Muddy 5K obstacle race.  It was a chance to get out and have some fun running through the Ecological Preserve on Livingston Campus while completing obstacles and crawling through a giant mud pit.  Luckily the weather was pretty warm because I was coated from head to toe in mud by the end of the race.  Although I did end up a bit bruised and battered from the obstacles it was a lot of fun and a nice change from the daily grind.

Tomorrow, 10/9/13, I am participating in Illuminate the Knight a 1.5mi run through Livingston campus that culminates in a dance party.  The course will be lighted with black lights, strobes, neons, laser and more.  It is suggests racers show up in neon and white to help light the course.  The after party at the finish line will have a DJ and more Rave lighting.  Registration is still open for anyone interested.

Visit Rutgers Recreation Facebook page to see tons of pictures of recent events, you’ll even see some muddy ones of me.  Hope to see some of you out there tomorrow and at other future events!

Be yourself and don’t take things too seriously

It’s almost a year since I came Rutgers as a graduate student, and I have to say: “Oh, I love it here!” To new graduate students, I’d like to share my experience here with you: don’t take things too seriously, and I bet you’ll love Rutgers too!

Enjoy your time at Rutgers!

There are smiles and tears in this first year.  I enjoy the knowledge I get from my courses – I want to learn. I’m happy to be a good TA, and I make the effort to improve each recitation I give. It’s always great to meet cute and kind people, and at Rutgers you’ll meet many.

Sometimes I distance myself from the crowd, not because I am too shy to show my friendship, on the contrary, it’s exactly because I want to develop friendships. It’s important to maintain friendship with people in your work circle, which is a key element in guaranteeing efficiency and cooperation in a research project, and a happy environment for study and working. Always keep in mind that studying and doing research is why you have come to Rutgers.

Be yourself and don’t take things too seriously.

Maybe you have a general goal for yourself when entering graduate school — you know what you are interested in and ready to dedicate yourself to research in your area of interest, however, life is not always as you expect it to be. It’s not always how hard you’re willing to work — there are many things that you cannot control — but what you can do is to find a balance between your goals and the environment you are in.

Maybe you like a research group very much but decide that it would not further your research goals; maybe you have found a suitable group but realize that you have not sufficient passion for the particular project and need to dig out a topic that you like.  Be yourself, and don’t hesitate discussing the project with your professor, letting him/her know what you want to do and getting suggestions. Everything is changing very fast — just remember to keep your goal in mind and be ready to adjust it as necessary to stay in balance with your environment.

Think a second time before making decisions, try your best to accomplish everything you decide to do, keep in mind your life goals, and find balance with the changing world — that’s it —  nothing to regret, and enjoy every day. Like an old song said “whatever will be, will be”.