Everyone in college, going to college, or wants to go to college someday: I'm a graduating senior, and I have one favor to ask of you.
Go to more talks.
In your field, far out of your field go to as many talks as you can.
Sometimes you’ll have good excuses. I know I did. I’m not going to skip classes that I’m paying for, and I can’t miss lab meeting because something cool popped up Thursday at 4. I know you can’t either - I get that.
Sometimes I had /okay/ excuses. I have to study for orgo one more hour. I want to relax tomorrow, so I’ll do more work tonight. It happens.
Sometimes I had garbage excuses. I’m tired. The Bachelor is on. I’m playing on my phone, so time slipped away from me, and now I’m actually going to do work.
PLEASE go to talks. Learn from people doing what you want to do. Learn from people who have a career you didn’t know existed. Learn from physicists, sociologists, activists, grad students, Nobel laureates, your peers.
I’ve never regretted going to a talk. I had no clue what was going on sometimes, sure. But not ONCE have i left the room thinking “What a waste of time.” You know what is a waste of time? Playing on your phone til time slips away.
This is my biggest regret as I approach graduation. So here’s my request of you: please go to talks. For me. And when you realize it’s wonderful, engaging, challenging, and rewarding, please do it for you.
this one was requested by @boglarkat-studyblr, @catharticstudying and @nevermindigotnothin, so i hope you find this useful! i’ve definitely tried a bunch of different organization methods over my years of schooling, so i know a fair bit about it. this post will include my current organizational system and also some other ones i’ve tried/thought of and their pros and cons. hopefully there’s something in here for everyone! xoxo, m
ps. you do not have to be impeccably organized to be successful. studyblr kind of perpetuates this “i need to have everything planned perfectly and color coded and filed away in this super neat system”. not everybody works that way and not everybody needs that in order to achieve their goals. find what works for you.
studyblr community! This is my first original post; I hope it serves
you well! I got my research position through a program in my
school, so the process was a little more formal at first (I had to
write essays), but I still used these when it came down to
communicating with my PI (principal investigator). Good luck!
YOU SHOULD CONSIDER BEFORE LOOKING FOR A LAB
Do you have time to do this? Don’t just think about gaps between
classes in your schedule. Think about how hard your classes are and
how much time you need outside of class for homework and studying.
Orgo and psych might both be one hour classes, but they are
definitely not going to require the same amount of time outside of
class. You need blocks of time (3 to 4 hours at a time) to spend in
What kinds subjects are you interested in? Those departmental
websites are where you’re going to be looking. (Don’t be shy about looking into research that isn’t within your major. You never know what kind of answers you’ll get!)
3. What kind of work are
you expecting to do? Do you want to do benchwork (wet lab)? Or do you
want to do things that are more computational (dry lab)?
If you were really interested and did well in one of your classes
this semester, look up that professor’s website. Read about their
areas of research, or…
Go to your major’s website (or website of any other department you were interested in) and find the faculty list. Start reading
everyone’s research interests.
For the professors whose work catches your eye, go to their lab
websites and do some more reading! (Better learn to love it now;
research is a lot of reading.) Look up journal articles authored by
these professors (pay attention to the year they were published.
More recent ones will give you a better idea of what could be going
on in their labs right now). You don’t have to understand everything
in the article. At the very least, read the abstract and skim through
the introduction and conclusion. This will give you a better feel of the problem and what was accomplished in the project. It’s important to know this stuff because you’re going to…
E-mail the professors! And don’t write cookie cutter e-mails.
Individualize each e-mail and make sure to voice your genuine
interest in that lab’s work.
Be concise. Ain’t nobody got time to read your perfectly crafted
5-paragraph essay on why you should be taken into the lab.
Introduce yourself, your year, and your major. If you’ve taken
relevant coursework, you could mention that too.
Mention that you came across the professor’s research and be specific
about what caught your attention.
Say that you’d like to talk to them about their research (this is
code for “Please can I work with you?”)
Only send a few e-mails at a time. If you don’t get a reply after a
couple of days, you could send a second e-mail as a follow-up. If you
get a no, respond courteously. You could ask one more time and insist
that you really loved their research, or you could just politely
thank them for their response and wish them the best. If you get a
yes (congrats!), find a time and place to meet the professor, and ask
if there’s anything they’d like you to read in preparation for the
6. DON’T BE DISCOURAGED IF YOU DON’T GET AN ANSWER OR IF YOU WERE TOLD NO. KEEP LOOKING!
I’ve been told that the meeting is basically like an interview, but
my “interview” was really casual and not something I should’ve
stressed out about at all. I still wore something nice (casual
If the professor gave you something to read, do your best to read it.
Don’t freak out if you don’t understand, but don’t just read it
without trying to understand. Google any recurring words and phrases
that you don’t know (odds are that if they appear often, they’re
probably important). Write notes and questions down (even if it’s
more technical ones like “how does this work?”).
If you didn’t get anything to read, try to look up past papers again
and skim anyway. Take notes and come up with questions. Don’t go in
there without having anything to say or ask.
When reading scientific literature, don’t dwell on the details of the
methodology. Go for understanding the big picture: what kind of work
came before this paper? What were the findings of the paper? What are
the implications for future research? What’s the next step?
At the meeting, admit that you didn’t catch much of what you read
(it’s humbling and very likely to be true). Ask questions and talk
about what you did understand.
At the end, thank them for meeting with you and ask about openings in
the lab. If they have one and offer it to you, thank them and say
that you’d like a few days first. Ask if they could talk to other
students in the lab so you can get a feel for the environment. Also
ask about who you’d be working with, what their project is, etc. You
want to know what you’re getting into.
Once you’ve made your decision, e-mail the professor.
ASK QUESTIONS WHENEVER YOU’RE UNSURE OF ANYTHING. If you have anxiety like me, it’s scary. Admitting you don’t know something is anxiety-inducing, especially when you’re in an environment where everyone has tons more background knowledge than you. THAT’S OKAY. You’re new. You’re an undergraduate student. Of course you don’t know as much as everyone! You are here to learn and you learn by asking questions. SO ASK!!!
2. If you’ve made a mistake, don’t try to cover it up. TELL SOMEONE ASAP! Be honest and responsible!
Keep a notebook with you so you can take notes on lab procedures. Be diligent!
If things aren’t going well (you’ve lost interest, trouble with your
mentor, etc.), talk to your PI. It’s not fair to you to be doing work
you’re not excited about (this is an extra-curricular activity, after
all), and it’s also not exactly productive to the lab to have someone
who doesn’t really like being there anyway. You have to love research
to do it well!
Do your best. People are using their time and resources to train you. In return, you should dedicate yourself to it! (Doing your best does not mean sacrifice your emotional, physical, and/or mental well-being. Understand where your boundaries are and stick to them.)
If you’re pre-med, this is a way for you to illustrate your passions.
Research can end up being a talking point for you if you end up
dedicating a lot of your time and energy into it!
last day of class was yesterday and we (finally) wrapped up all the topics we needed to cover for the orgo 2 exam. you are currently looking at my second to last page of organic chemistry lecture notes ever. ever. now just to get through the final… -m
Also last night’s dinner ❤️❤️
My friend is moving and she wanted to have dinner with me before she left. She bought wine and dessert and set up everything so beautifully. She helped me so much throughout uni and I’ll be forever thankful for her guidance 💕
Studied some orgo today before my 9am physics class! I finally understand hybridization after visiting about 20 different websites. I’m sure my professor taught it perfectly but with my difficult brain, I had lots of trouble understanding it.
Also it’s PSL season!! This is like my third one this season lol, I hate that there is a Starbucks right outside of my window.
now that the ap exams are getting closer, it’s time for SuperCramTime™. meanwhile i am also studying for this orgo exam, which is starting to hurt my brain. so many mechanisms…lol. good luck to everyone studying for exams!! :)
Studying Calculus III in the physics lounge with my friend Katie (she is on the couch in the corner haha). I’m glad she asked me to study together because I think I’ve definitely been more productive with her around!
I actually became friends with her because I would always see her studying in the lounge of the dorm we were in my sophomore year, so I messaged her on Facebook and told her she was an inspiration! We started studying orgo together, then bam! Friends!
She’s a former biology major prepping for PA school. So technically she’s probably not supposed to be in here, since this lounge is swipe access only to physics majors. But no one is around in the summer. And we’re legitimately studying, so whatever. :p
21.10.16 || it has most definitely been a very, very long time since i’ve posted and i apologise but i promise that i’ve been productive! there are officially 25 more days until i sit my first exam and not gonna lie i’m probably gonna soak my papers with my tears.
here is a lovely image of my orgo notes, as you can see, it is an absolute mess quite like my life rn. I hope you’re all doing well, always remember to take care of yourself and to stay hydrated + fed!! all the love for you all ♡ ♡ ♡
Reflecting on Year 2: Organic Chemistry Tuesday, 12:33PM
Organic Chemistry was one of two pre-req classes that I had been most anxious for. It was among the ones that upperclassmen complained about most frequently, and this year I was able to knock it out and survive…perhaps even thrive? Having finished the course, I can pinpoint what exactly makes the class difficult. The sheer mass of brand new material being thrown at us is daunting!
For that reason, I think it is a wonderful and scary and necessary class to have for a med school pre-req. It’s as if we were given a brief, gentle glimpse into what our classes might be like 3-4 years down the road. At least, that’s the perspective I took when I studied for orgo exams; I guess this class was my private test to see if I can handle the intensity that this subject offered.
Now that the course is officially done and over with, I wanted to write on a couple of things that helped me over the last year. Maybe those who also went through orgo can add tips of their own, and hopefully those planning on taking it in the future can benefit a bit from my rambling thoughts under the cut.