Russian and East European Studies IE Pre-Grad Intern Robyn Kellogg
My two goals for this semester, going into the graduate student internship, were to research possible graduate schools in Russian and East European Studies and what field within the area studies to concentrate my degree in, including funding research, and finally, to attend a conference with my mentor to help me meet professors and experts of my field from all over the world. While I always assumed I would go to graduate school immediately following undergraduate graduation, being a part of this internship allowed me to do personal research and attend the conference with my mentor and have helped me realize that I should think differently on the subject of graduate school. It is no longer something to think casually about - it is fast approaching.
Most of my semester has been full of graduate school research - from what field to study within Russian and East European Studies, to funding possibilities, to what schools within the US I feel would be a match with my personality from department to department.
My biggest problem within my undergraduate major has been deciding what my field of study within Russian and East European Studies as a graduate student will be. My biggest interest is in history. However, finding my niche has been difficult, and I am still not sure what field I will go into, which has been one of the reasons I am now weary about going directly into graduate school. Furthermore, funding is also a major concern when it comes to graduate school. As a first generation college student, regardless of my grades, most of my undergraduate funding has come from student loans. While I understand many graduate students take out student loans to help fund their studies, I do not know how much more in student loans I could financially and emotionally afford. So, after researching funding options on my own, and also attending the graduate student mentor panel, I discovered funding is on a touch and go basis for many other students. However, I know that funding will never limit my graduate school possibilities. Lastly, along with funding research, I also did program research at different schools in the US I felt I would enjoy attending. I noticed that many Russian and East European Studies programs are either language and literature based, or history and government based. So along with deciding on a program, I also need to decide on a place I could potentially live. The options have been overwhelming at times due to so many variables to think about, including exactly what I want to do with my graduate student career, and completing my undergraduate studies, but I know that ultimately, doing this research, attending the panel meetings (which helped so much!), and just having a mentor to ask my many questions (she told me she's been where I am at now, which is reassuring), will lead me to the right path and I am no longer as worried about finding my perfect path as I was going into the internship.
Later this semester, I also attended a conference in New Orleans with my mentor. We attended the AAASS (Association for American Advancement in Slavic Studies) where I attended paper presentations and roundtables on many different subjects of Russian and East European Studies headed by professors and experts from all over the world. It was truly an enlightening experience as I attended presentations on every subject from political, to cultural and discovered that I am interested in far more within Russian Studies than I thought which makes deciding on my field even tougher. However, I met some professors that I feel would help me further my possible graduate studies and/or career in the near future and I realize now that meeting them was potentially essential in my future. Furthermore, at this conference, I was looked upon as a professional and peer of these experts which made me more confident in approaching them and asking them my graduate school questions. This conference, more than anything, helped me in making my graduate school decisions and I will forever be thankful for the opportunity to attend this, which would not have been possible without being a part of the graduate school internship.
Together, researching graduate school fields, departments, and funding possibilities, and attending a conference in my field have helped to shape my decisions about graduate school for the future. I realize that had I not been a part of this graduate school internship, I might not have gotten the opportunities to meet so many important people within my field at this point in my career. I admit at times I almost gave up on graduate school to begin with but can now safely say I will be attending graduate school upon my undergraduate graduation (I feel I will find my place in time) and had it not been for this program (and my mentor) giving me opportunities, I would still be a lost undergraduate merely floating along.