The Chemist: Top 5 Pieces of Advice to Survive STEM
Hey everyone! Sorry for the hiatus last week, but we all were traveling/finishing out our semesters. This week we wanted to give our top 5 pieces of advice for surviving STEM. So here it goes...
1. Stay Organized.
It's so easy to get lost in all of the labs, homeworks, lectures, etc. that you have get done while pursuing STEM, not to mention if you're looking at graduate school, applying for fellowships, or trying to find a job. With the craziness and all the academic pressures of being a STEM major, make sure you're organized. I'm Type A, so I write everything down, everything has a folder, and is color coded. I'm not saying you have to go THAT far, but writing things down in a planner really does help keep you on track with deadlines. Whatever works for you to organize your thoughts and your STEM life, make sure you keep that up (or start doing it). Not being organized also can cause stress and we definitely wouldn't want you to be stressed.
2. Study Efficiently.
Yes, you have to study but what good does it do if you aren't retaining any information. Find ways to make you're studying for you a million classes worth it. Studying in groups, going to the library (if you can't focus at home), going to office hours are all good ways to study efficiently. Doing a little a day really helps when exam time comes. And honestly keeping up with the reading in class and rewriting your notes daily/weekly are really effective - something I wish I would've done earlier in undergrad. Try a few techniques out and stick with the ones that work.
3. Self Care. Self Care. Self Care.
This is so important. STEM is hard. You have something to do all the time and not just in the classroom. You spend a lot of outside hours working towards that STEM degree so it's vital that you are taking care of yourself. Take a break every once in a while. Treat yo self ! (For my Parks and Rec fans out there). Make sure you're eating and sleeping properly - which I know is hard to do. Make sure you find an outlet for your stress, whether it's reading or working out or something else, take care of yourself mentally and physically. It's very easy for one all nighter to turn into all joggers all week and you're living off of coffee or Red Bull. Try not to get into that habit, especially during finals. I promise you'll learn better if you're body and brain are happy.
4. Build Relationships with Your Professors.
This is really important when it comes to reccomendation letters for your post graduation plans. You always want reccomendations to be genuine and from people who know you well, so don't be afraid to connect with your advisor or favorite professor. These are people that want to help you get to where you want to go. There are a few professors at Pitt that I absolutely love and respect and to this day I still talk to them. They were my inspirations and confidants when it came time to plan for my future and I thank God everyday that I have them in my corner. It's always good to have people in your field looking out for you because they'll be able to relate to your problems and help you advance and network. I promise they aren't scary. It's worth building 2-3 solid relationships before you graduate.
5. Believe in Yourself.
I think this is my top piece of advice even though I didn't do these in any particular order. If you don't believe in yourself then no one else will. You have to be confident that what you're doing now is going to be worth it and is going to make you happy. You can do this! I know it's hard to constantly think this when classes get hard or you aren't doing everything as well as you want to, but you have to take the bull by the horns and finish what you started. Everyone's journey is different when it comes to STEM because there are so many directions to go, but at the core of all of your decisions you have to truly believe that you are amazing. You're a #MacScientist for crying out loud and we can do anything we put our minds to. Keep up the hard work and you'll make it.