Chemical Engineering Pre-Grad Intern Benjamin Bamgbade
My Excellent IE Experience
Ever since I was a child, I had a penchant for math and sciences. When I was in the third grade, I remember excelling in my math and sciences courses without any real issue. However during high school I found that in addition to math and sciences courses, I had a special desire to help improve society around me and leave my mark. This is essentially why I decided to major in chemical engineering. A famous person once said, "An educational system isn't worth a great deal if it teaches young people how to make a living but doesn't teach them how to make a life." This quote shares my thoughts as to why I started to look into graduate school. Of course the salary for a chemical engineer graduating with a bachelor's degree is excellent, but I didn't want to be confined to doing routine work for the rest of my life. This is essentially why I decided to partake in IE this semester and find out more information about the graduate school process and operation. Through working with Richelle Thomas and attending the various IE events, I have learned so many important things that I may not have ever known about graduate school. Participating in IE this semester showed me the differences between graduate school programs, what to expect, how to improve my chances of admission, and a basis to start my criteria list for deciding which schools to apply to. I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to partake in the IE program this semester and the experience that I have gained from this program is priceless.
For my IE internship, I worked side by side with my wonderful mentor, Richelle Thomas. She was extremely helpful in answering questions about graduate school and giving me an idea of what to expect. One issue that I had with going to graduate school was spending an additional four years in school, when I had the opportunity to be working and providing for my expenses with a little less stress. Although the job market is not the best, there are still many opportunities for engineers out there. Due to the time constraint, I initially thought it would be best to pursue a Masters in Chemical Engineering versus a doctorial degree. After talking to my mentor, I felt at more ease to pursue a doctorial degree. She assured me that professors will actually fund you and give you a stipend when you participate in research and are actively working towards a Ph.D, while if I decided to pursue a Masters in Chemical engineering, I would essentially have to pay for it myself off of loans. In addition, if I were to obtain a Masters in Chemical Engineering, I might be under qualified or overqualified for a lot of jobs in the job market because a good number of companies are seeking doctorial degrees for their research and development departments and Bachelor degrees for their regular engineering work. The topic that really sealed the deal for me was when at one of the IE events I realized that I only had to go to school 4 more years for the rest of my life and wouldn't have to worry about school ever again. I thought that that was much better than going to work and always worrying about heading back to school.
During the first few meetings with my mentor for the IE internship, we looked at various options and programs that would help increase my competitive edge for getting into graduate school. I must say that these were very useful discussions because I did not know what most graduate schools look for. A specific program that we looked at was the McNair scholars program that helped prepare me for the graduate school transition through professional workshops and research with a professor here at the university. My mentor helped me through the application process for this program and we discussed the similarities for this application process and the graduate school application process and how certain things should be handled. I even started my graduate school essays in which she helped me edit and improve. During some of the meetings that we had, I had the opportunity to get a inside look on what the life of a graduate school student is and what to expect. I have learned that the whole graduate school process is different for everyone and that it can only be as stressful as you make it. I really like the atmosphere that graduate school provides. If it was not for this program, I would not have known that there are certain things that I have to do prior to graduate school, for example the GRE and campus visits. After covering the graduate school application process and graduate school life, I created a list of criteria for choosing a graduate school. My mentor assured me that picking a compatible graduate school that works in cohesion with my personality was very important. Before this program, I thought that I would just randomly apply to schools and decide based on the ones that I got accepted to. Another issue that I had with graduate school was the fact that I didn't know if I would be competent enough to be able to keep up with the knowledge required to perform research. My mentor once again assured me that everyone that enters graduate school is in the same boat and that most of the work that you do is learned on the position. In addition to the required assignments that my mentor gave me, I feel that having her as a support channel was very important. Overall, over the course of this semester I became very confident in being able to get into and succeed in graduate school.
In conclusion, I am very fortunate to have been able to participate in this wonderful IE program. I have learned so many things that will help me through the graduate school process and graduate school. I wish that I could take this course again just to expend my knowledge even more. This program showed me what the next few years of my life will be like and I am very content. I would like to thank the whole IE staff, my graduate mentor, Richelle Thomas, and everyone that has helped me during the course of this program.