Monday, May 4, 2015

What I wish I knew going into Junior year

Here we go again, another senior telling us what to do

Well I have three more blog posts to go so I figured that it would be appropriate to impart some wisdom. Oh and if you guys didn't know, hi! I'm your token senior physics major in the class. I thought that you guys might appreciate some tips that I would have liked to know coming into my junior year.
Don’t be afraid to ask your professors and TA’s questions:
living life on the edge
If you guys don't know me as the token senior, you may know me as the guy who asks too many questions in lecture. I found that asking questions is really beneficial though. First of all, if you're going to graduate school and seeking letters of recommendation later on... your professors will not remember you if you don't interact with them. Just getting an 'A' in their class is enough. Yes, grades are important but you'll find that grades and numbers are just the first screen. Graduate schools will scrutinize your letters of recommendation. The best way to develop a relationship with the instructors is to talk to them- questions in class, after class or in office hours. Also, it's a really good skill to know how to ask a good question. School is supposed to prepare you to succeed in the world beyond. You're gonna need to ask good questions, so just start now. And, this is so true, if you are unsure about some the material I guarantee there is at least one other person in the room with that same question. Don't be ashamed, ask questions.

Be cautious with using the phrase “I don’t have time for this"
Yeah, to be honest, you have plenty of time. The real decision is whether you want to make a priority to do this or not. Making this distinction in your mind is important because it helps you understand your goals and priorities. When I was a freshman, I was balancing varsity lacrosse, academics and dark matter research. I ended up leaving the lacrosse team prematurely because I convinced myself that I did not have enough time to do it. For how well I wanted to do in academics and my research this was true- I did not want to spend the time playing lacrosse when I considered time doing academics more important. You have time to do loads of things while you're here, you just have to make sure that you allocate your time efficiently. Take the time to pick the time commitments that you are passionate about whether that is research, varsity sports, living groups, etc. and stick to that. to admit when you’re wrong
Yeah, don't count on bullshitting your way through MIT. Especially when you get to interviews and presentations, people are very good at calling out when you are unsure. Don't get me wrong, if you think that you have a valid explanation for something that you are unsure about go ahead and try it out. It looks better to admit when you're wrong and ask for help rather than finding yourself completely lost in a tough situation.

Take work one day at a time
I still find myself at the beginning of the semester, starting to get anxious when I'm reviewing all the tests and papers that are coming up. When you take all of your assignments on the whole, often you will make yourself more anxious and you wont be productive worker. Remember to take each day as it comes, prioritize what you need to accomplish that day and stick to it. You will most likely get it done, MIT is doable if you digest it in small quantities.

Working efficiently is more important that working long hours

You might find yourself in a crazy semester where you don't have the time to spend days to study for tests. It is during these semesters that you learn working efficiently and taking care of yourself is way better than working long hours. Some people like to boast how many all nighters they pulled and use it as a point of pride. Well, most likely these people are not so good at managing their time. I am proud that I've only pulled two all nighters during my entire time year (and subsequently, my grades haven't suffered). Athletes and anyone who are engrossed in a serious time commitments will agree with me that when you don't have all the time in the world to dedicate to classes, you get really good at prioritizing your time. It definitely takes drive to get through it, but also make sure that you're taking breaks and taking care of yourself. In order to work efficiently, give yourself breaks. Seriously, I am a huge fan of 15 minute breaks. When I work, I'll either work for as long as I can then give myself a 15 minute break. Alternatively, I'll time myself for 25 minutes, do as much as I can, then give myself a 5 minute break. Consider implementing a strategy like this, it has worked very well for me thus far.

Do MISTI or just study abroad.... get outta here for a bit
the other Cambridge
It is hard to develop a healthy perspective at MIT. We are worked so hard that we find it difficult to even enjoy the great city of Boston around us. I did CME my Junior year and I still think that it was the best decision of my undergraduate career. I found it incredibly beneficial to immerse myself in a culture that I was completely unfamiliar. Moreover, I met some great people and learned about different cultures. Also, MISTI is easily the most efficient program at MIT. Seriously, I walked into MISTI France and got job offers and opportunities within the week. Oh, and did I mention that everything is PAID FOR?

Summer after you Junior year is the most important one
Take the time now to plan accordingly. If you're thinking of going to graduate school, this is the time to start looking for your letters of recommendation and taking your standardized tests. If you’re going to industry, the job that you get junior summer will often be your best option coming out of school. More often than not, these jobs will give you return offers, which if you enjoyed your work, can relieve alot of strain in your senior year.

Explore options outside of science
Helena, I strongly disapprove of
your recent merger
Don't confine yourself to just science, you might be surprised what you find. Explore options outside of your possible career path maybe in business, economics, computer science.... For example, in the last couple of weeks I have been exploring consulting as a possible career path. After doing a couple case studies, I have become infatuated with the idea. That said, I have been doing research since my junior year of high school. Take advantage of the networking events that MIT has to offer- consulting club, business clubs, Koch institute events... They are always advertised and are fairly easy to seek out. Also, did I mention free food?

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