I Went to Berkeley… And Got Much More Than a T-Shirt

by Jenn Andersen, McNair Graduate Assistant

Having been in your shoes just two years ago, I know that MSRE goes by much quicker than you ever anticipated. It’s a lot of work, and California McNair Symposium at UC-Berkeley is the finish line. So what do you do now? Here are five things you should do once you are back in Nebraska.

1. Reflect on your experiences. What did you get out of MSRE? The reflective essay is one of the most important assignments you will do as a McNair Scholar. Think about your experiences, what you’ve learned, and how you felt during your first year as a McNair Scholar. Writing this essay helped me to see how far I’d come and how ready I was to be a graduate student. Reading it again after graduation and before starting my graduate program gave me insight into how I’ve grown as a scholar since MSRE.

2. Take a break. One of the most important things about ending MSRE is taking a break once it’s over. If your experience was anything like mine, you lived in your lab, worked on your paper, poster and PowerPoint once you were home, and still had to take care of real-life issues. Make sure you enjoy the last little bit of time before the GRE and applying to graduate school take over. Learning how to do this now will serve you well in achieving a good school-life balance.

3. Get your name out there! Email the people you made contact with at the Berkeley Symposium. Contact potential mentors at graduate schools.  Make appointments to talk with UNL professors to discuss your future goals. You never know when one of those connections will help you. See Abe Flanigan’s July 16, 2015 McNair blog post about networking for tips and ideas! https://unlmcnair.wordpress.com/2015/07/16/finding-a-graduate-program-thats-right-for-you/

4. Keep up with your research. One of the best things about taking part in MSRE is the skills and knowledge you gain in your field. Leverage this to start work on your senior thesis! Keep working on your project or start a new one. You can always spend some time in a new lab for a different perspective.

5. Start prepping for Graduate School applications.If you’re graduating within the next year, graduate application deadlines will be here before you know it. If you have another year, this is the time to work on getting your materials together.

  • Start narrowing down your list of graduate schools.
  • Take the GRE within the next month after the end of MSRE.
  • Explore websites like McNairScholars.com for ideas on where to find funding, either for current research or for your future graduate career.
  • Reach out to your faculty recommenders and make sure you know what they need to complete your letters. Professors may have very exacting standards for their letter packets.
  • The more you do now, the less you need to do before the due date!
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