It’s so nice to be graduated — I can make lists of things that I’ve done and call them blog entries! Hooray!
I know a lot of people are thinking about their fall schedules right now (I mean, a lot of freshmen — most upperclassmen are probably still trying to erase memories of their spring schedules), and I’ve heard several people wonder whether they will be able to hold a job and successfully complete their schoolwork, so I thought I’d talk a little about the jobs I’ve had at MIT.
I’ve had a job of some sort since Registration Day of my first term at MIT, and I’m glad that I did. In an obvious sense, money is good, and I’ve always felt that the less money I had to beg from my parents, the better. They paid a lot of money for my education, and the least I could do was try to pay for makeup at Sephora and nights out at the movies, yeah? I never felt that having a job impaired my ability to do my homework — in fact, I’ve found that having a job and participating in an extracurricular activity have helped me acquire my ninja-like time management skills. When you know you have to go to work, you have to think twice about turning off your alarm and sleeping through an entire school day, unless you are exceptionally good at faking sick to your boss.
I think that first-term freshmen should be careful not to overcommit themselves, but working two or three hours a day is almost certainly not going to overcommit you to anything. As a first-term freshman, you’ll probably be in class only four or five hours a day. You’re probably used to being in class seven or eight hours a day; you could use those “extra” hours to watch Cartoon Network and eat Cheetos, or you could use them to earn some money. Your choice.
August 2002 – May 2003
My job as a student librarian at the LLARC (Language Learning and Resource Center) was actually the first job I’d ever held — I was way too absurdly busy in high school to work. I heard about the job during cheerleading tryouts, when Maritza ’03, the captain that year, told everybody that the LLARC was hiring and that we should all go apply.
I worked seven hours a week during fall term and eight hours a week during spring term; I usually worked two hours a day. I got paid campus minimum wage, which is $8.75 an hour, and I was responsible for checking out books and other media to patrons, keeping library materials in order, and doing weekly chores like dusting the bookshelves. It was a very good job for a freshman, because there’s a lot of downtime, so I was pretty much stuck at work with my homework for a few hours on end. I got a lot of homework done that year while getting paid to do it. Pretty good deal, if I do say so myself.
June 2003 – August 2003
Like I said the other day, I got a ten-week internship at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism the summer after my freshman year. (My postdoc told me at one point that he’d picked my resume from the pile of applicants because he was curious to see what an MIT cheerleader was like. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s two jobs so far which are directly attributable to the cheerleading squad.)
I spent the first few weeks of the summer getting all my safety training and learning how to do things like PCR and gel electrophoresis; I helped a little with a project to find candidate genes for alcoholism. My major project that summer was to genotype 300 rhesus macaque monkeys at six genomic loci using PCR and a big expensive capillary gel electrophoresis machine worth approximately as much as my life. It was time to breed the macaque colony (which was a test population for studies on genetic and environmental contributions to alcoholism), and in order to set up breeding pairs, the postdocs needed to know which macaques were closely related to others.
I don’t think I got paid much hourly (the NIH is the federal government, after all), but my stipend checks came monthly, and I’d never seen checks for so much money made out to me. I loved my NIH job, and I happily worked overtime with no compensation so I could finish the project before I had to leave.
August 2003 – July 2006
During my summer at the NIH, I decided it would be a good idea to look for a UROP. I emailed about ten professors whose work sounded interesting to me, sending my (admittedly skinny) resume and a short cover letter explaining why I would make a good little worker bee in their laboratories. I got two responses, one from the professor I work with now (Morgan), and one from the professor next door (Yasunori). I interviewed with Morgan, and he offered me the job on the spot, so I never even interviewed with Yasunori — I don’t think he even remembers, though. At any rate, Yasunori always talks to me in the hallway, so if he remembers, it didn’t hurt his feelings. (Note here that I got the UROP because of my previous experience at the NIH — so mark this one as an indirect instance of the cheerleading squad getting me a job.)
I am not so much inclined to talk about what I do in my UROP, as I’ve talked about it five majillion times on this blog and it’s starting to bore me. At any rate, I work full-time during summers and IAP, and about 15-18 hours a week on average during term (although working 20+ hours wasn’t terribly unusual for me). I get paid through Morgan’s research funds (not by the UROP office) — I’m actually funded by a grant from the Japanese research institute RIKEN.
I’ve been at the lab longer than most of the postdocs and grad students who are there now. Been there forever, yep yep.
July 2005 – August 2006
I’m sure I don’t need to say anything about this job (duh), but check this out. Ben offered me the blog job because he’d seen me posting on College Confidential… and I started posting on CC because there was a thread about MIT cheerleaders and I was defending my kind.
So apparently if you want a job, the best thing to do is join the MIT cheerleading squad.
1. Jason said
I plan to take course 16.50 “Introduction to Propulsion” this fall, and I want to prepare in advance. I would like to know is there anyway I could get information about what textbook would be used in this course?
Well, two things. First, the textbooks required for MIT classes aren’t listed anywhere online, and the only way to find out which books you need is to physically go to The Coop in Kendall Square and look. This is the Coop’s evil way of trying to discourage you from buying textbooks online. Still, even though the Coop opens the book section criminally late, there will still be plenty of time to order the book online after finding out what it is.
Second, you could check out the community book trading sites — BookX has a listing for two 16.50 books, and generally speaking the books stay the same from year to year. I don’t know the URLs of the other two sites — we used to have one site for the whole community, but it shut down last year, and since then things have become rather randomly chaotic. APO also does a book exchange every semester.
I should mention that some course 16 classes don’t have textbooks — 16.05, which Adam took this spring and which is the prereq for 16.50, didn’t have a book, just a course reader available at CopyTech.
2. Jon said,
I don’t know if you’ve ever been there, but Pirate’s Cove has seriously got to be one of THE BEST minigolf courses in America. If you haven’t been, check it out!
We were actually going to go to Pirate’s Cove (because what’s cooler than pirates? nothing), but a) it was hot, so we wanted a water park, and b) Adam was nervous about driving that far. :)