Attending an Astronomy Seminar

This past week I attended an astronomy seminar in Scott Lab. There were many seminars that I could choose from, including a chemical engineering one, which aligns with my major. However, each of these seminars were geared towards graduate students, so when I read the descriptions for each of the seminars, I felt like I wouldn’t understand any part of the chemical engineering discussion. For this reason, I looked at the description of the astronomy seminar and I thought that they used terms that I understood to a certain extent. Obviously they were going to go in much more depth than I could understand, but I felt that I had the greatest baseline for this seminar over all of the other options. I went to the seminar with a couple of my friends which also made for an interesting discussion afterwards, as we tried to grasp the concept better.

The seminar was about the “Determination of the Evolutionary States of Red Giant Stars through the use of Seismology.” I chose this seminar, because I know a little bit about red giant stars and seismology techniques, plus it seemed interesting. The man who presented the seminar was actually from France and developed a renowned technique for using seismology to find out more about red giant stars. I did walk in not expecting to completely understand the topic, but I think I was surprised by how little I knew. Most of the presentation included graphs that I didn’t know how to read analytically, however there were many graduate students who did understand enough to ask questions about various data. These questions helped me to understand the concepts better, because they essentially broke the information down into simpler ideas that I could use my baseline knowledge to understand. Another challenge was the fact that his french accent did make it more difficult to understand what he was saying, but I think that forced me to pay attention more, which ultimately allowed me to take more away from his presentation. I did somewhat feel that I didn’t belong, but I was also interested enough to try to understand to the best of my ability.

I think the most rewarding part of the seminar was when I thought of a question that I would’ve asked had I not felt out of place, that a graduate student actually ended up asking. It was kinda like, “wow maybe I am understanding this.” It really made me realize that the little bits of information that an underclassman understands from these seminars is valuable. This small piece of information that I was able to understand truly made the seminar feel like it was worth it. I walked away with more knowledge than I walked in with. Additionally, when we left, my friends and I talked about the seminar and what we understood. It seemed like most of us were able to understand the same parts of the presentation and we were able to affirm the fact that we did learn something from the seminar. Overall, I think my first experience attending a seminar has really encouraged me to attend more in the future.

Getting Help from Career Services

A campus resource that I recently took advantage of is the Career Services in Hitchcock Hall. I went to the Career Services Office to get help with my resume. I needed help deciding what high school experiences would be relevant to an employer, as those are the only experiences I have up to this point. I went into the office with a resume that was a little over two pages, because I didn’t want to miss anything important and I figured it would be easier to cut out information rather than add it.

The main reason I decided to seek this help was because I plan on attending most of the career fairs this year. I understand that most companies aren’t looking for first years, so I want to make myself look as valuable as possible for those who will consider my application. I heard about this service from a friend who was doing it for the exact same purpose. I want to be as competitive as possible so I went to the career center the very next day.

It wasn’t that hard to find someone to help me. The career services section is connected to the Diversity and Outreach center and the Undergraduate Student Services, but I simply asked someone to point me in the right direction of what I was looking for. Everyone was extremely helpful and I didn’t even have to wait in a line. I scheduled an appointment for later that week and decided to work on my resume a little bit more before the meeting.

The appointment went as good as it possible could have went. I was able to cut my resume down to one page without removing any information that I felt was important. The adviser told me about how I could provide less information in my resume so that I could explain it in the interview if I got one. She told me to stress my soft skills and my specific technical skills, like what programming languages I know. I now feel a lot more confident going into any of the career fairs and I hope that my new and improved resume will help me land the internship that I’m aiming for. I am confident in my achievements and my current abilities, but I wanted to make sure that other people would believe in me to that same extent.

The only thing I will say to keep in mind about the workshop is that each employer does have their own opinions about what is relevant to their company. Therefore, although I think that my resume says a lot about my best qualities I am sure that it won’t be the perfect resume for every application. They did stress this at the career service center, which is another good takeaway from going there. They even gave me some pointers for the career fair. They said to have a normal conversation and try to show off my soft skills and let my resume do the talking for my more technical skills. Overall, it was a good experience and I plan on going back for interviewing practice at some point.