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MIT student blogger Mollie B. '06

Hello from Palo Alto by Mollie B. '06

My California not-so-vacation.

I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty sick of grad school interviews. I’ve been extremely lucky to interview at all of the top five programs in biology, and eat lots of free food and stay in free hotels and fly using free plane tickets, but I am so tired of being alert and awake. I am also tired of missing class, considering that I have two tests and a pset due next week. C’est la interview vie. (Maybe if I keep dropping French phrases into my blog, I’ll learn the language. Immersion, right?)

My most recent trip has brought me to the San Francisco bay area to interview at UC Berkeley’s Molecular and Cellular Biology program and Stanford’s Biosciences program. It’s gone/is going a little something like this.

Saturday, Feb 25. I leave Boston at 8 AM Eastern. I arrive at SFO, run into several of my fellow recruits (most of us have interviewed at other programs together, and we’re getting to know each other pretty well by now) and catch a shuttle across the bay to Berkeley. Dinner is pizza and beer at the home of a current student in the program.
Sunday, Feb 26. I take a tour of campus (it’s very woody). Brunch is at Berkeley, where several grad students give presentations on their research and the chair of the admissions committee gives an overview of the program. Recruits go on San Francisco tours with current students; I chose to tour of the Scharffen Berger chocolate factory, which gives free samples. I eat dinner with several grad students and faculty members of the Cell/Developmental Biology division at the home of a faculty member.
Monday, Feb 27. Interview day #1! It’s pouring rain and I can’t wear my cute interview shoes (they’re very “I’m a serious scientist but I still like cute shoes”) and I am somewhat vexed. I have two interviews, lunch, and another interview. There are several small faculty presentations during the day, and a final presentation which all the recruits attend. All the recruits and all the faculty head to a faculty member’s home (“The house that biotech built”, according to one faculty member) and have a classy catered dinner.
Tuesday, Feb 28. Interview day #2. I have an interview, then attend the closing lunch and another interview. Berkeley puts the 35 of us who are also interviewing at Stanford on a bus to Palo Alto. I go to dinner at the home of leftcoast mom, a frequent commenter on the blogs, a current MIT mom, my friend, and an all-around awesome person.
Wednesday, Mar 1. Free day in Palo Alto! I sleep in, go to a quick lunch, then come back here to soak up the internet. And be lazy. Tonight I’ll go out to dinner with current grad students in the cell biology program.
Thursday, Mar 2. Breakfast with the department, then faculty talks. I have three interviews spread throughout the day (my friend John ’06 hit the unlucky jackpot and has one at 8 AM tomorrow). There’s a student Q&A session in the afternoon, then a “poster session/social hour” (read: pizza, posters, and beer) all evening.
Friday, Mar 3. Much like Thursday, I have breakfast, three interviews, lunch, and a student Q&A. I’m eating dinner this evening with a faculty member, probably at a local restaurant.
Saturday, Mar 4. There are San Francisco tours and activities all day, then I’m catching the redeye to Boston at 10 PM.

Look for me to answer a bunch of questions later today. For right now, I just want to be a little lazy and watch TV — I’ve been talking to people almost nonstop for the past several days, and I’d like a little R&R.

7 responses to “Hello from Palo Alto”

  1. M says:

    I personally would go to Stanford for grad school (CA, nice weather, [you fill in what’s great about academics because I don’t know any – I’m just HS senior]). But then, I would prefer to have you around in Boston/Cambridge if I am admitted. Anyway, can you share some of your thoughts about what’s hot and what’s not about grad programs in Bio at the institutions which you have been interviewed? Thanks a lot.

  2. Christina says:

    This sounds like an incredible amount of fun.

  3. Christina says:

    Do you feel like you have an allegiance to MIT?

  4. SPho3nix says:

    Wow – Molly! You were out here? Weather hasn’t been THAT bad (just started raining a couple days ago)…what did’ya thing? Cali is pretty tight.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Thanks a lot for your blog Mollie. I log in MyMIT like twice a day and you seem to be the only person to keep me entertained. Thanks for the efforts.

  6. Anonymous says:

    if you ditch the prof tonite, let me pass on 2 places people in their 20s go in downtown PA. Start with drinks on Nola’s, which is on Bryant right off University Ave. Then go dancing at Fannie & Alexander’s (ask people where F&A is, that’s what they call it).

  7. Actually, it would be more grammatically correct to say “C’est la vie des interviews,” but keeping trying!