In Fall 2019, I took LIFE STEM Seminar III with Dr. Alix Fink.
The focus of this course was primarily on developing professional skills to prepare for future research opportunities, graduate school applications, and careers. The course had three primary components: guest speakers, professional documents, and mentoring. First, STEM alumni visited our class on a weekly basis from a variety of industries and agencies to share professional advice and experiences. Second, we had to develop and perfect vitaes, resumes, LinkedIn profiles, cover letters, professional bios, and head shots. Last, we were matched with a freshman STEM student and had to plan and execute a semester-long mentoring program with the goal of exposing them to professional opportunities on campus.
This class was advantageous for me because most STEM majors do not get exposure to this kind of intense professional development in a classroom setting, especially as an undergraduate. The opportunity to network with successful alumni had me thinking ahead of my own future. I was always curious in government jobs, and several alumni shared experiences and benefits that they receive in their careers. I learned that there is no perfect path to success. Sometimes, finding a dream job is indirect and with many obstacles. It assured me that I am doing the right steps in my time at Longwood to strengthen my resume and prepare for a real world job. Also, I got a lot of helpful input on my professional documents, especially for my CV. I plan on updating it throughout the summer. The best thing that came from this class was my connection to my mentee. She was really receptive to my advice and help. I tried to cater to her needs by taking her to events, such as a graduate school seminar. Also, I helped her make a schedule for the Spring 2020 semester. We ended up creating a strong bond, and we still talk to this day. I love mentoring younger students and getting them excited about Longwood.
For my artifact, I chose to include an assignment where we had to write a letter to a rising LIFE STEM junior. I had to apply what I learned through my mentoring and give the younger LIFE STEM student advice on their own mentoring experience. I enjoyed this assignment because it was a unique way to reflect on my own experience that could actually benefit the next LIFE STEM class. In general, my advice was to be genuine and organized. While this is a professional experience, it is important to remember that the mentee is a peer, so it is important to be relatable and personable. Also, the focus of the experience should not be on the grade, it should be on helping a freshman thrive and be successful. It is important to identify their needs and expectations by creating a plan together. This ensure that the mentoring relationship is the most effective it can be. And most importantly, structure and planning ahead of time can help focus the weekly meetings with an emphasis on their needs.