Countdown to Berkeley!

Photo Courtesy of University of California, Berkeley

Photo Courtesy of University of California, Berkeley

Weeks of summer research and hard work are behind us, and the 2009 California McNair Scholars Symposium is fast approaching! Scholars have been busy finalizing their presentations that they will present alongside their fellow McNair Scholars from around the country.

Those who have attended the UC Berkeley conference in the past are the experts when it comes to what to expect, so we turned to past and current McNair Scholars Rebecca Beals and Tara Cossel to share their experiences and preparation tips.

What helped you out the most when preparing for your individual presentation? Practicing with friends? With McNair staff? By yourself? Memorizing your presentation?
Beals_Rebecca
Rebecca: Practice. I practiced my oral presentation in front of the mirror when I would get ready in the morning, I would practice parts of it as I drove to campus, I practiced any chance I got. I get especially nervous presenting to people that I know well and to really small groups, so I would make myself present to just my mom or just my sister in order to get practice presenting while being that nervous. When it came to presenting to a larger group of strangers (which is easier for me) I was hardly nervous at all.

Cossel_Tara
Tara: For me, going through my presentation over the phone with my mentor was the most helpful. It was important to me to feel prepared for whatever questions would come up. Once I had that down, I just had to tell people what I’d learned. I spent all summer on that project, so that part seemed easy.

Did you have experience presenting before MSRE?
Tara: Yes, I presented a poster at the Nebraska Symposium on Motivation my freshman year, but I had a much better grasp on what I was doing during the McNair project.

Rebecca: I had done class presentations, but never a presentation at a conference like Berkeley. Before the McNair Summer Research Experience, I wasn’t sure of the difference between a class presentation and a conference presentation. I was extremely nervous. But the McNair staff did a lot to help prepare us for conference presentations. Being able to present in front of such a wide variety of audience members at Berkeley was a very beneficial experience. Learning how to talk about my research to a different kind of audience, field questions, and present myself professionally are things that I could only learn through this type of experience.

What was Berkeley like? Fun? Scary?
Tara: Berkeley was amazing. I was incredibly nervous to present, but my mentor talked with me about the project, asking me questions that were likely to come up. Knowing how to answer tough questions ahead of time gave me confidence.
Also, I met a lot of people at Berkeley that are interested in similar research. It was fun to talk about the common measures we’d used and learn about new ones. A few of us exchanged papers, and we keep in touch.

Rebecca: It was such a great experience. Not only were we able to get the opportunity to present our research at a national conference, but we also learned how to network with our peers and see how professionals act at a conference. It was also nice to experience what a large research conference is like. Although we were very busy, it was a lot of fun spending free time with the rest of the cohort in the Berkeley area. And, the food was fantastic.

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