You know that feeling when everything seems to work out? No, not really, we’re graduate students and we’re used to the feeling of things not working, experiments going awry. Well, lately things in my life seem to be coming together quite nicely.
The last of my Ph.D. interviews have come to a close, and with all offers on the table I’ve decided that I will be attending Brandeis University in the fall for their Biochemistry and Biophysics program, one of the top 10 biophysical research programs (I was surprised to find out) in the USA. The interview process itself, in general, was quite different than what I was expecting. I had no idea how few seats are available to international students. Here are a few tips and tricks I learned from my interview process, and I hope that future students find them useful…
1) Above all else, when applying to school in America, be American. I know that this is a lot to ask, but if you want to ensure your entry into doctorate programs at good universities, then be American. I, unfortunately, did not have this going for me when applying to schools, and as a result was (at the three interview weekends I attended) the only international student present. I kid you not. It was a different feeling having people thing that New Brunswick, Canada is some exotic and foreign location…
2) In your interview, know your research. The interviewers will not pry into your achievements or grades, they want to know what you’ve contributed to the opus of science. Know what you have accomplished, and know it well.
3) If all else fails, ask what they research. Most of the time, the professor is trying to sell their research to you so that you will choose to attend that school. Ask questions, be engaged (which you should be anyway, because you applied to that program), and most of all HAVE FUN.
4) My biggest goal going into these weekends was to get to know the current students, and to get to know the area. If I am going to be living in that lab for the next five years, I need to know that the other people are down to earth, accepting, and open-minded scientists. I also need to know that the surrounding area is livable, and therefore take the time to get to know the lay of the land.
All in all, it has been an exciting two months, but now that things are winding down and sorting out, all is well. Time to write up this Masters thesis!