A Letter to Graduate School Interviewees
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A Letter to Graduate School Interviewees

First and foremost, congratulations. Truly. But there's more.

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A Letter to Graduate School Interviewees

It's recruitment time for biology grad students, which means that interviews are starting and new prospective students are coming to visit!

Looking back on my own experience at this time last year, I remember my own interviews fondly, and sincerely hope that I never made a fool of myself. It was stressful, but I had so much fun. You don't normally think interviews would be fun, right? You're more worried about knowing your science and all these other things. Being on the other side of the process now, I just have some thoughts to share with all the prospective graduate students.

To the interviewees,

First and foremost, congratulations. Truly.

Second, enjoy your interviews. Not what you expected me to say, right? You probably expected me to say something about how it's still an interview and don't forget about your research, don't forget to be polite to the faculty, et cetera, et cetera, and so forth. In all seriousness though, enjoy your interviews. Definitely take them seriously, because not everyone who interviews will be accepted into the program, but remember that you are allowed to have some fun. You call them interviews, but grad students call them recruitment, because part of the purpose of interviews is to show you how amazing the grad program/community/research is and convince you to join us.

Think about it - you're flying all over the country, on the universities' dimes, meeting so many new people your age who all love science just as much as you do, and you all get to nerd out together. It's really a completely different environment from being with your friends at school, even if they are also biology majors. Hard to describe, but it's really quite wonderful and amazing, actually. You will meet some of the same people again and again on the interview trail, and if you already know you'll both be at the same school the next week, then they give you an additional something to look forward to as well. You will become great friends with some of them, even if you don't end up at the same school. (If you do end up choosing the same program, it's even more amazing. You've already met them, you know that they're pretty awesome people, and you can't wait to get started and have new grad school adventures with them.)

Okay, you should also know that interviews are exhausting. Not only are you traveling a lot and living out of a suitcase, but you are also trying to be at the top of your game mentally for each interview. It gets tiring, believe me, even if your little research talk feels as though it's been memorized and ingrained into your brain forever. If you're still in undergrad, then you're also trying to keep up with classes back home. If you've graduated but are still working in a lab, then you're trying to manage experiments too. Not to mention normal life things! It's a lot, I know, but believe me when I say that interview season was one of the most exciting and happy times for me. Stressful at times, yes, I will not deny that, but I gained so much from it. Not only a new appreciation for the differences between many seemingly similar programs and the sheer amount of amazingly cool research going on around the country, but also friends that I wouldn't have met anywhere else. I'm still in touch with the people I met at interviews who didn't end up in my program - they update me on how they like their new city, how their classes and rotations are going, how much they miss sunny California where they used to be. They ask me how I like the West coast after being on the East most of my life. They give me book recommendations. If they ended up in a city I know, I give them touristy suggestions and restaurant recommendations for my favorite local spots.

So my advice to you, current and future interviewees, is to enjoy these interviews. You will come out of the season exhausted, maybe confused by your choices, maybe certain about where you want to go. But you will definitely come out with new friends and experiences that you couldn't have gotten anywhere else. It may be turn out to be unforgettable in the best way.

I wish you the best of luck!

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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