Approximately 75 students sat elbow to elbow and up against the wall in McKay 127 on Thursday, Feb. 15 for the first-ever science career night, according to Associate Professor Michael Weber. Five speakers talked about better preparing for the future in terms of how to get into graduate and professional school, as well as information on internships and finding jobs.
The idea for the career night came from a graduating student survey, student focus groups, casual conversations, and Department of Natural Sciences Chair Georgi Lukov, said Weber. The students and alumni said they wished they had more guidance about post-graduate paths and jobs after school.
Each speaker who had 10 minutes to briefly speak about their topics. After the meeting, they gave students the opportunity to go up and speak to the different professors personally and ask them questions.
“This event will at least be every year,” said Weber, “and the most important thing we hope students get from this is to plan early and take advantage of the unbelievable Research Experience for Undergraduates opportunity.” The Research Experience for Undergraduates, or REU, is a source for internships from the National Science Foundation, said Assistant Professor Brad Smith. The internships provide housing, food, and a stipend between $4,000-$5,000. REU is not offered to international students or alumni.
However, Smith recommended students look at the REU postings to search for additional internships by the school that are offered to international students.
Lukov focused his segment on professional schools. He went over specific credits required for different majors and explained how credits may differ depending on the school. He told students it is always helpful to ask their advisor about different requirements based on their particular interests.
Sam Merrill, a sophomore from Alaska studying biology, said he wished the speakers were more specific and had a side-by-side comparison of classes he’s taking and ones he’d need to take for certain degrees and schools. “But with the time they had, they did great.”
Marilee Ching, the academic advising manager, spoke about the post-baccalaureate teacher licensing program BYU-Hawaii offers. The teaching license qualifies students to teach public schools from grades 6 to 12 in the state of Hawaii.
According to Ching, all states have their own teaching licensing program. However, if a student moves to another state and has a Hawaiian license, the student may teach for a certain amount of time before getting the new state’s license.
She explained teaching as an emergency hire, where one is not licensed, results in an aanual salary that is $11,000 less than licensed teachers. Students may also graduate with a science education degree, which qualifies as a teacher license.
Spencer Ingley, assistant professor of biology, informed students on some of the benefits of graduate school, such as insurance, tuition waivers, and potentially receiving $20,000-$30,000 stipends. “I didn’t pay a dime for tuition for my PhD,” said Ingley.
To prepare early is to finalize a list of desired schools to attend, write application essays, and begin talking to potential letter of recommendation writers, said Ingley. For students who still have a lot of time, getting to know the professors, making the most of the degree, and getting research experience all help prepare for graduate school.
Iunisi Feinga, a senior from Tonga studying biology, said this was her last semester and this event was very helpful because she’s planning to do her internship before she graduates.
Chelsea Medrano, a senior from Mililani studying biomedicine, said the career night was helpful with answering her questions, but “it really just reminded me of how many things I need to do before the end of this year.”