Going to a Diversity and Inclusion Seminar

This week I went to a presentation on Diversity and Inclusion. The name of the event was “Who Am I” “Who Are You” “Who Are We.” The biggest topic of the discussion was what we identified with. It was an interesting topic, because obviously I naturally identify with certain groups, but I never really thought about it all at once. We were prompted to share what identities we had with other smaller groups and then eventually as a big group. It was difficult to think about my own identity, but it was a lot easier when I related to something that someone else said. Some of the easier identities to think about were race, gender, sexual orientation, etc but it was difficult to think about access to education. I think the main reason for this, is that most people around me have that same access, but not everyone does have the opportunity to get an education at all let alone a good one. Another topic that we dove into was privilege, but the presenter really stressed that it wasn’t about making us feel bad for having privilege, but rather acknowledging opportunities we have that other people may not have, because of factors that they can’t control. We talked about dominant groups and minoritized groups. The presenter explained to us that the multicultural center prefers to use minoritized over minority, because minority implies that they are apart of a group and that it is somewhat their fault, when really it is an action done by society. Another reason they do this is because there are some groups that are minoritized when really they are the majority. For example, women are often minoritized when really they make up more than half of the population.  This is something that I probably would have never thought of if I didn’t go to the meeting, primarily because I tend to identify with the dominant groups. It was really enriching to think about the privileges that I have, while associating it with the idea that some people don’t have them. It definitely will help me understand where people are coming for on a daily basis. Another privilege that I didn’t think about is fertility. However, it does kind of make sense that this is a privilege. Although, I think its more of a survival based privilege than a societal privilege.

I expected to feel a little awkward talking about some of these topics, but I think that the environment was encouraging and positive. There was a lot of participation by people from different backgrounds who talked about their paths to OSU and just overall prejudice or discrimination that they may feel or see in society. We talked for a little bit about the difference between prejudice, discrimination, and oppression. All three of these topics are really similar and I never completely thought of their differences until the meeting. I learned that discrimination was prejudice with action and that oppression was discrimination with power. This means that discrimination is when someone does something to another person purely because of one of their identities. Oppression is when their is institutional power that supports the discrimination. Overall I think the experience was extremely enriching for me.

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.  

Visiting the MSLC

This past week I visited the Mathmatics and Statistics Learning Center (MSLC) for help on a review sheet for my Calculus II class. I decided to take the engineering calculus course (1172) for my first math class in college. I took AP calculus 1 in high school and I got a good score on the BC test, thus I decided that I was ready for this course, considering I would have to take it eventually anyways. This course is the accelerated version of Calculus II so the review of Calculus I has gone by extremely fast. We already have a midterm over the review content this Thursday evening. I felt pretty confident on the Calculus I information, and I have done well on the quizzes so far, but I wanted to make sure I was prepared for the midterm and that I knew how the MSLC system worked before I would really need it. I have never been one to shy away from getting help, but I would say that I spend a lot of time trying to figure stuff out on my own. Part of the reason why I may have stayed away from review sessions in high school was because I didn’t know what types of questions to ask. Although, when I went to the MSLC, I thought it was really easy to find help and ask questions about the homework problems I was assigned. It wasn’t that easy to find the correct place for the center, being that it was located in the basement of one of the math buildings, but, once I found the correct room, I was honestly surprised by how many people were inside. I think there were six tables and each table was at least half occupied by students. Every student sat down at a table and worked on homework while the grad students and approved tutors walked around to offer help to anyone who needed it. I was surprised by the amount of people who were willing to seek help to this extent. In high school, tutoring was a highly stigmatized topic for students, and, for this reason, tutoring services weren’t taken advantage of as much as needed. However, I would say that I never felt bad about asking for help. I just didn’t need it as often, so I wasn’t able to help limit that level of stigma. I only needed help on one problem when I went to the MSLC, but I’m glad that I went rather than finding a fellow classmate to help me. This way I was 100% confident in the answers I was receiving, and I knew that the grad students wouldn’t just give me the answer but walk me through how to solve it. I liked that the tutors gave me hints on how to solve the problem so that I could still figure it out on my own. Personally, I learn best this way. The grad student who helped me only helped me for a minute or two, but, from their help, I was able to fully grasp the idea relating to the problem rather than simply being able to get that specific problem correct.

Big Data and Analytics Association

This past Thursday, I attended a meeting for the Big Data and Analytics Association (BDAA). I had heard about the club at the Welcome Week Student Involvement Fair, but Thursday was the first day I was able to make it to an official meeting. I had already tested out a few other clubs, such as, Chemistry Club or Astronomical Society, but none of them peaked my interest quite like BDAA. This organization focuses on teaching its members how to analyze data in real world applications and prepares them for career fairs and other events that could lead to an internship, or, potentially, a career. Traditionally, meetings are on Tuesdays, and, each week, guest speakers teach a new topic relevant to data analysts in the work force. However, this past Thursday, the club held a Q&A session with experienced members for any interested first year students. I tried to convince some of my friends to come along, and I was able to get two of them to come along. For the Q and A, all five panelists had held data analyst internships at some point in their collegiate careers. First they took turns answering predetermined questions arranged by the club president. For example he asked, “What BDAA event was most helpful for you?” and, “What skills did you use most often with your internships?” I could feel myself becoming more intrigued with data analytics as a whole the more they talked about their internships. They explained that computer science and statistics were both important for their jobs, but also how they learned a lot while working. This aspect really stuck with me because I always tend to think that I’m under-qualified for certain positions due to lack of experience, but they explained that their employers encouraged learning on the job as long as they understood the logistical side of the business. One of the events that came up multiple times in their responses was a more private career fair that the club as a whole was invited to. They talked about the great opportunity for networking and most of them made their first connection with their internship at that fair. They made me excited about it and I didn’t even fully understand what it meant to be a data analyst. The second half of the meeting was slightly different. Every new student separated into five groups and each panelist went to a group to answer more specific and relevant questions. After about 5 minutes the panelists would rotate so that we could get other perspectives. I asked a lot of questions relating to the possibility of learning these skills on the side. The reason I asked this is because I am in engineering and I’m trying to minor in Spanish so classes relating to data analytics probably won’t fit my schedule. To my relief, all of them said that they thought anyone can learn the basics on the side and for the most part their internships didn’t require much previous knowledge. Overall, the answers they gave really put me at ease and made me highly consider data analytics as a career path I would like to explore more. In fact, one of the panelists held an internship as a data analyst in a chemical engineering company which would make perfect sense for myself. I’m interested in continuing with BDAA through this school year. I just have to figure out how to build it into my busy schedule. Being that I am in other clubs like: Academic team, American Chemical Society, and Intramural Soccer, it will be a little harder to manage my time, but I do think I will prioritize BDAA when there is conflicts. I would definitely encourage any student who is interested in using logical reasoning, statistics, and coding to consider joining BDAA. It opened up a potential career path for me and I’m sure it’ll do the same for many other students.