A lot of people think because I am not in school I must spend all of my time on the couch eating Doritos and watching Grey’s Anatomy reruns (I’m looking at you Mom and Dad!). So other than looking for jobs, what have I been doing during my year off? Surprisingly, lots of things.
Finding potential grad school labs: I am interested in working in a behavioral ecology lab. Typically evolutionary ecology/biology departments (as well as the psychology and anthropology departments I applied to) require that a faculty member agree to take on a student before accepting them. After I found people who’s work I found interesting, I sent a TON of emails to them, asking if they are taking students and waited for their reply (and if there was no reply, send another email and wait again), which was pretty time consuming. Then I had to see if I met the requirements for each department before choosing to apply to the program. Since I am potentially spend like 6 years at one of these places, I wanted to make sure I really wanted to go there.
Application madness! This is what I mostly did from mid November to the beginning of January. I spent most of my time writing my personal statement and ordering GRE scores and transcripts. I spent quite a number of days surrounded by junk food (but no Doritos!) and caffeine filling out those forms.
Research: From graduation to mid-November, I met weekly with my advisers and worked on my undergraduate research project. I also went to a conference this summer and presented a poster. This project has been a challenge to work on. I was lucky enough to be paid to work on my project during undergrad, but now it’s volunteer work. I still find this project interesting and as much I would like to work on it, compared to applying to schools and finding a job, it doesn’t seem that important (especially w/ student loan payments). Things kinda came to a halt during my grad school application marathon then my job application marathon, but I’m hoping to start it back up again. I also hope to begin reading more articles.
Lab meetings: I still try to stay involved in my undergraduate lab by attending our weekly group meetings. I do this mostly to hear a bit about science and because I really like my lab. I also take the time to go to campus because I applied to my undergrad institution for grad school. Maybe being seen will help my chances of getting in!
Tutoring: I’ve been tutoring a few high school students in AP Bio since October and began tutoring college student athletes a couple weeks ago. I took the jobs to make some extra cash (it pays well!) and it gets me out of the apartment a couple hours a week. It turns out that I really like it!
Sleeping and reading: OK, my parents are kind of right on this one. Since graduation I’ve read fictional books, like ones with characters and plots! OK, I reread the Harry Potter series, but that’s more reading than I did during undergrad! I’ve also read some career/science related books such as “So what are you going to do with that?”: finding careers outside Academia and Unscientific America . I have a book called Dirty Minds checked out from the library and ready to be read. I also have been sleeping 6-7 hours most nights… and it feels wonderful! I never could do all-nighters, but I would spend weeks at a time with less than 3 hours of sleep each night, so real sleep is a treat.