Last week, I went to a scholarship portfolio exhibition hosted at the Art Center. My Graphic Design teacher recommended us to go to see what strong, developed portfolios look like, and I’m really glad I went! All of this is so different from what you see at Caltech; it’s so refreshing and creative (and also a bit overwhelming).
I’m not that familiar with the arts, so at first I didn’t really know what I was looking at. There were tables set up for each person whose portfolios were displayed, and most people had hanging posters, a device playing a video or showing a website, and several books or items they’d made on the table.
One thing I found amazing was that people actually wrote and printed out whole books as projects – I feel like there’s so many factors to take into account, like the dimensions of the book, the color, the font, the type of paper, as well as the layout and the actual content! As an example, below, there’s a biography of Murakami and books on fashion and encoding.
Some people also had their process books open, which is a book that contains information on how that person executed the project from beginning to start, including doing research, initial designs/thoughts/explorations, to e.g. logo and logotype development, refinement, and applications to systems.
This summer I had the incredible opportunity to do a 10-week internship at Gilead Sciences in Foster City, CA. For those unfamiliar, Gilead Sciences, Inc. is a research-based biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development, and commercialization of innovative medicines.
With 45 Nobel Laureates on its Faculty Roster, it’s not surprising that research is an integral part of the Caltech undergraduate experience. One of the programs that promotes such research is the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF). There is no minimum knowledge or experience required to participate in a Caltech SURF. In fact, students can participate in a SURF as soon as the summer after their freshman year. It is not difficult to get a SURF. All you need to do is find a mentor who is working in an area of research that interests you and willing to mentor you through a research project. The mentor can work in a Caltech lab, at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), or at another participating institution. Once you find a mentor, you work together to write a project proposal that you later send to the SURF office for review and approval. About 98% of the SURF proposals get approved. This fellowship is a great way to explore various fields of research and obtain real, hands-on experience where you get to apply the theoretical knowledge you’ve learned in class. Not only do you get to work and learn alongside your mentor, but you also get compensated for your time. The length of the SURF is ten weeks, and it starts at the beginning of the summer. However, it is not uncommon for many students at Caltech to continue their research project throughout the academic school year.
Like many students at Caltech, I suffer from a slight boba addiction, where side effects may include over caffeination, minor sugar highs, and of course, a large toll on one’s wallet. This addiction is not helped by the fact that there are at least three boba shops within walking distance of campus. So, after an entire term’s worth of boba runs, I came back from winter break with a new year’s epiphany: it was time to get a job. Rather than try to curb my addiction, I decided to find a way to subsidize it.