This week has been so busy!
We had the career fair on Wednesday—which meant a lot of prepping and revising my resume in anticipation of the event. There were about 60 companies in attendance, each with enthusiastic recruiters and booths stocked with pamphlets on career opportunities and free schwag (is that how you spell it?.
Since I am a senior, I took this career fair very seriously and made sure to establish good contacts and drop my resume off to any company that could be potential employers. In the past years, I have been so lucky to have met companies at the career fair, interview with them, and getting hired for full-time paid summer internships (Boeing and Schlumberger). But this time–instead of inquiring about internships, I asked about full-time positions.
I also got to see my recruiter, Holly from Schlumberger in Houston who
took me out for dinner that night to catch up :) Thanks Holly!
After spending a little over two hours at the fair, I ended up landing interviews with about 5 companies. 2 of them being on-campus and held later in the week. The other 3 sometime within the next month or with the details still in the works (pending some flight/travel accommodations!). How exciting!
On Friday afternoon, I had two interviews within two hours of each other. The first was with a very-well known investment bank located on Wall Street in New York City (company names will be left unnamed); the interview had the infamous tricky brain teasers that finance interviews are notorious for having. For that being my first ever finance interview–I thought I did well and was proud that I made it through all the pressure. (I have done a ton of interviews before—but never a brain-teaser based interview). After grabbing a quick snack and relaxing a bit–I headed back to the career center for my second interview. The second interview I had was with a well-known American oil and gas corporation centrally located in Arlington, Virginia. This type of interview I was used to—it was basic behavioral questions about my experience and my background. I also thought this went well, as I felt very at ease talking throughout the interview and about myself.
I was so exhausted by the end of the week—I expect a lazy weekend ahead trying to recharge and get ready for another week at Tech!
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.
Research at Caltech looks different for every student, and can often vary term by term. As a chemistry major, my course requirements are on the lighter side for a Caltech major, and many chemistry majors take advantage of the lighter course load to join research groups. This can be whenever the student wants, but many people join labs during their freshman or sophomore years. Some may work in one lab only, and some may switch between labs during the course of their undergraduate studies, depending on if their interests change.
SURF, short for Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, is a quintessential experience for any Caltech student. It is a widely accessible research fellowship for Caltech students that funds your proposed research for one summer term. While many of my classmates did their first SURF the summer after their freshman year, I sent in my first application to the program as a sophomore. As a CS major, I was trying to chase meaningful work that intersected computation with the field of neuroscience. I ended up doing a SURF at the Stanford School of Medicine that first year, studying hand gestures in children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Since then, I’ve been working in the research space of applying computational analyses to ASD.