and Engineering Doctoral Candidate
Rotimi A. Ojifinni
I was a pre-grad internship mentor to Uche Osamor, a junior student in Mechanical Engineering during the fall 2006 semester. I had earlier on mentored Onikepo Omotade, a junior in Electrical Engineering in spring of 2006. My initial goal of being a mentor was to positively impact undergraduate students by helping them through their decision about jobs and graduate school using my personal experience. Six years ago, I was faced with the dilemma of going to work or going to graduate school. I did not have anyone to help me with this decision and I just went with my gut feeling. This experience made me decide to mentor undergraduates both formally and informally in order to help them make decisions and prepare for life after undergraduate degree. Both interns are women and they are both from Nigeria.
The first thing I did with both interns was to build relationships with them so as to engender trust as I will be telling them things that might have very profound impact in their lives. Next, we set goals ranging from intangibles to practical experience with experiments as engineers. We then continued regular meetings at least twice per week on physical basis and virtually via the internet. Most of our meeting times were spent looking at the goals we set and executing tasks towards achieving those goals. Specifically, I coached my interns through Nanotechnology being the newest direction of research and the potential direction of the economy in the next decade. I taught them the broad overview about nanotechnology and its applications and then we performed experiments on how to synthesize and characterize metal nanoparticles. This experience helped them to learn about the graduate student life as well as learn how to do research. In addition, I helped them gather some essential success skills such as quantitative skills, analytical skills, problem solving and team skills, as we talked, gathered data and analyzed those data. Towards the end of the program, we talked in details about their decision as regards graduate school and they both loved the idea of going to graduate school. We talked about possible research areas in graduate school and how to prepare for standardized tests like GRE, GMAT and so on.