Class of 2010
Jason Stein is a recent graduate from Western Washington University (WWU). In March 2010 he received his Bachelor's Degree in Chemistry. When he first came to WWU, he was not set on being in the Chemistry major, despite his fascination with lab work. He originally thought he was going to go into electrical engineering, but his heart just wasn't in it. He decided on chemistry because of repeated successes he had in the subject area during high school. Jason stressed, "Even if you participate in something you are already good at, you will gain skills." With this mindset, he decided he could give chemistry a try at the college level. Jason instantly knew chemistry was a perfect fit because he could see himself wearing a lab coat to work every day. Throughout his major, it was apparent he was in the right field because of the visual and hands-on nature of the work. Jason strives for a position with a group whose focus is on cancer research.
While an undergraduate student, Jason saw the benefits of visiting the Career Services Center (CSC). He was a frequent visitor. He would come in for a variety of reasons ranging from career advice, grad-school information, internship search advice, and resume and portfolio help. He revisited the CSC because of the encouraging atmosphere and the multiple perspectives throughout his career, internship and post grad preparation. Specifically, the services he received from the CSC helped him to learn what his options were and to supplement his own research, cross-reference his portfolio and improve his confidence in his portfolio before sending it out. He also obtained guidance from the Chemistry Department as far as seminars and advice from the experts in the field.
Also as an undergraduate, Jason had an opportunity to intern with NASA. Although his position was Research Assistant, Jason felt the job would be more hands-on than it actually was. He spent a lot of time at a computer doing data analysis on the molecular composition of lunar soil. Jason was able to see from his first internship opportunity his likes and dislikes of field research, and can further take that experience and grow as an individual. Regardless, Jason's number one advice to undergraduates is: "get an internship!" This experience helped him to become a well-rounded individual and led to participate in a second NASA internship in the summer of 2010 before graduate school, engaging him in atmospheric chemistry. This position will be more inside the lab, where he will be participating in hands-on experiments- his dream goal. Jason's motive for the internship is to gain experience and contribute to his overall employability. A potential employer looks for someone with experience and Jason wants to have anything that will give him an edge on the competition. He also wanted this internship to gain varied experience. Jason advises, "Reality is that at some point you will have to confront your fears and reach into your discomfort zone. One should get those experiences out of the way when still in a safe environment." An internship is one opportunity to confront those uncomfortable experiences.
In the fall of 2010, he will start his graduate degree program at WSU, with a focus in organic chemistry or analytical chemistry. Jason encourages future grad school applicants to apply for a doctorate program because while it is possible to move down to a master's program, it is far more difficult to earn a doctorate. His post graduation plans were encouraged by his professors, who stress continuing education in his field of expertise. His family has always advised him that more education opens up a greater variety of career doors to have the most opportunities available. He also knows that with a bachelor's degree in chemistry he would be limited as far as employment opportunities go. A master's degree places him at competition level with individuals who have a doctorate degree. A PhD would allow him the most creative freedom and highest level of project development and management. Each degree type holds its own benefits, both personal and work related and must be matched up to best fit the person's goals.
During his preparation for graduate school, Jason looked at all of the variables involved within a graduate school. Primarily, he investigated if the university was involved in his target-research endeavor. If he were to pass on advice to students considering grad school, it would be to start early (at least one year before graduation). Starting early will ensure that you have plenty of time to meet the deadlines and to decide on what GRE to take and prepare.
Jason is a strong and stubborn individual, unwilling to fail. With this mindset, he will succeed. He knew what he needed to make the most of his experiences. His perseverance and persistence allowed him to get the answers he needed. "Give it a try and don't take the easy way out," Jason said. "When presented with two options, choose the one to push yourself to your full potential, to improve your skill sets and broaden your horizons. One will only grow from struggle."
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