We Move In Packs

One of the most different parts of being a graduate student is the idea of having an actual group; in undergrad I had my capstone project research group, and the set of people I did homework with every week, but we were always ships passing in the night as the semesters changed. We had our own traditions and space (a group of us adopted the first floor conference room for daily homework problem debates), but we were all interested in very different things, and ended up in very different career paths.
In grad school you have a dedicated group of people who share the same advisor, space, and general research interests. A major tip I was given as a senior applying to Ph.D. programs was to choose an advisor and group I felt comfortable with. The idea was to find your niche within a larger program, so that when you needed something (from choosing classes to learning a new polishing trick), you could turn to the guy/girl sitting next to you and ask with reasonable results.
Coming from a smaller (I graduated with about forty other mechanical engineers), very tightly knit undergraduate program, I knew I was going to need something more than just office mates. As I searched for my perfect program several things became immediately obvious to me. One of these was how well all of the professors and students got along, not only with each other but also within the groups in smaller settings. I visited and interviewed with several big universities during the summer and Fall of my senior year, and had incredibly different opportunities at each one.
When I visited Ohio State a few months later during a dreary February weekend, I entered Watts Hall and found a great program. I met many of the students I would be working with (and decided I’d love to carve myself place in their circle), I found a professor I respected and knew I’d love working with for the next few years of my life, and decided I was going to be a Buckeye.
So here I sit, five months later. I have five officemates, and there are several more group members who occupy the next few rooms down in our corner of Fontana Labs. They are definitely a unique set of engineers, each from a different undergraduate background, and several from very different parts of the world than Buckeye country. They’ve all adopted me, and have made a space for me within the group. Each one of them is more than happy to answer my seemingly unending lines of questioning. And once every few hours, we make our way down to the third floor for coffee and tea, always in a pack.

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One Response to We Move In Packs

  1. Pingback: Back in the saddle again « OSU Materials

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