Monday, November 8, 2010

Scholarships and Selective Opportunities: Advice for New Verrazano Students

On Thursday, October 28th the Verrazano School hosted a VELA event to help prepare underclassmen for the process of applying to internships and graduate schools.  Geoff Hempill from the Career and Scholarship served as the moderator of the student panel.  Attendees heard from three Verrazano upperclassman, Deryn, Irvin and Melissa, and each touched on various aspects of the application process.

Melissa, a member of the CUNY Pipeline Program discussed her experience with research in the field of psychology as well as the benefits of CUNY Pipeline.  She encouraged freshman and sophomores to try out several clubs and gain a variety of experiences while they still had the time in order to figure out what they were passionate about. Melissa also talked about applying to graduate school and the many steps one must take to be a successful applicant. Such steps included researching universities and their programs either the semester or summer before you apply, getting the GRE out of the way over the summer and writing one’s personal statement in enough time to have it proofread and edited if necessary. She also advises students in the sciences to get involved with research early in their college career, not only for the benefit of their resume but also because it would allow them to find mentors in that specific field. Research, as Melissa pointed out, could also lead to a job after graduation and in today’s economy this could prove to be a valuable back-up.

Next Deryn, a Lipper intern with the Museum of Jewish Heritage: A Living Memorial to the Holocaust gave students advice on the ups and downs of applying to internships. She encouraged them to research organizations they would be interested in working with and sending out a resume. Many organizations will appreciate a student who takes the initiative to email and inquire about opportunities that might be available. Deryn also reminded the underclassmen that applying as a freshman or sophomore can be very difficult since many institutions give their internships to juniors or seniors who have had more experience in the field. During this time Deryn suggested that students get involved on campus since extracurricular activities would not only help to build a resume but would also allow them to network with members of the faculty and administration.

Lastly Irvin, a JK Watson Fellow spoke about his internship experience with several companies and non-profits. He explained that thanks to these internships he was able to realize what he wanted to do after college and got the courage to change his major. Irvin brought up the importance of networking and how fellowships such as Watson allowed him to connect with a group of students who had a wide array of interests and who would no doubt become useful contacts in the future. Irvin, as well as the other panelists, emphasized the importance of connecting with professors in one’s intended major. These connections, they said, would not only come into use when looking for a letter of recommendation but also because professors can offer valuable advice in regards to graduate programs.

In conclusion each panelist echoed not only the importance of networking but also putting yourself out there and making contacts in the area you are interested in studying. Getting involved early will allow you to accomplish more, and make a larger impact on not only your resume but also the college community. Finally the majority of college students will have changed their major by graduation so if you find something you love pursue it and turn it into a marketable attribute.    

Melissa, Geoff, Irvin, and Deryn
Links to related internships and fellowships:
CUNY Pipeline Program
Museum of Jewish Heritage - Lipper Internship
Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship

 - Deryn Cro, Student Correspondent

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