Digital Profile Will Help All Students

As I realize after working in the different laboratories with outstanding master and Ph.D. students who have incredible ideas and profound knowledge of the subject but lack the communication skills and networking skill either real or digital.  I am getting the impression that students coming from different generations are getting confused with the sudden change in the communication pattern. Some are struggling to adopt this change and some have accepted easily within the flow.  I can be wrong but if in 2018 you are not communicating digitally even if you have equal attention of 4 billion people, through digital platforms is a big mistake.  I want to bring the attention of all the aspiring students from different backgrounds to lay your foundation in today`s digital platforms to create the fundamental blueprint of your vision which will take years to develop. In some lucky cases, you will be able to see results in just a few months.  As I continue to understand and communicate with students using social media and personal interviews, I have started to notice the amount of stress, anxiety, and misunderstanding in them is at an extreme high.

As most of the aspiring and passionate students are stressing in the early stages by navigating their life by other people and there personal experiences which is not right.

Especially in 2019, it should not be the strategy where graduate students are trying to get hold on to the title to secure a job in industry or academics.

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What is the need for Digital foundations?

In today`s low digital drive, it is a requisite to create a robust digital foundation. For some or most students, digital networking and content creation could be a boring field, but if you want to stay in the information and digital world game, then content creation and digital networking is the most important subject.

Aspiring young researchers, students, and innovators should take this digital chance to create their style and stand out from the crowd. It could have been accepted if you are not able to improve your communication or networking in the 1980s, but in 2019 the things and opportunities we have do not leave us with one excuse. The chances are unlimited right there on your phone. It is also something that gives you the attention of 4 billion people if you are upright and unique in your work. Does not mean that you will be on the top in just four months as you are competing with many people with the same baseline and passion for sharing their ideas. It is worth noting that, if the travel and fitness content creators can create such a buzz in the market, then why not the students from other backgrounds? I am pretty sure; this digital profile will help you to build your confidence, creativity, leadership and networking skills. There is no harm in understanding the digital platforms and putting them to good use for the betterment of society.

Taking initiatives for the community in addition to academics is indeed useful to build up your communication skills and networking that can be done through; scientific podcast, setting up a talk show in your society or among different colleges, a scientific journal among the undergraduate or graduate students. It’s one of many ways to network with researchers and interact with fellow student researchers.

Back in 2013, when I was in 2nd year, I became an associate editor with an undergraduate research journal of Colorado State University, undergraduate students ran that for undergraduate students. This gave a whole new idea about the power of digital tools for coming undergraduate and aspiring students.

Have you wondered how your CV would look in the next 10-15 years? Have you ever wondered how people used to communicate or collaborate back in the 1970s or 1980s? The things and method of communication are never the same and so as the student life and its trend have wholly changed globally. Companies and the academic institutions will see their potential candidate digital profile as a standard requirement- I believe that it worth doing it now to develop your digital profile in every sort of platform available because all the platforms are completely different and need in-depth research to get your whole command on it.

All the elements that are revolved around scientific and technological research are not the same anymore. Therefore, I would advise you to develop or use tools that enhance your communication with people from a different background such as media, IT, digital marketing, video creators or editors which will add significant value in your planned projects.

Even academicians and researchers look for the people to work for them who can perform well in more than one domain. The future and even present entirely belong to the digital world. Getting out of your comfort box and connecting with people from all the background especially who understand the domains like digital, machine learning and artificial intelligence more than you. These interactions and networking skills will be life-changing moments and will help you to grow and reinvent yourself in so many ways.

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How To Win Scholarships? Undergraduate Research Experience 1

It is a proven fact that most of the students entering primary or middle-high school will find occupations that do not exist today. Therefore, the role of research and adapting to technology will play the central role in there personal as well as professional life. To prepare yourself for the changing economy, the complete system must adjust to the changing world, but it will take time to change the whole system. But you can always change or adapt quickly according to the available resources. Various insights considering the culture, environment, and technology will significantly improve the way of our learning.

Undergraduate students have enough potential to navigate and investigate new ways to find their potential abilities and qualities. The goal is to focus on the skills and competencies that are not the core focus of the regular curriculum in Universities and Schools.

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Did you ever think that you spend almost 1000-1400 days to complete your undergraduate school? The next question will be if you have anything in your mind about the output of these 1000-1400 days. Do you think that the degree or diploma is the ultimate fix? Have you designed any strategy to maximize the production of your undergraduate years to provide you the abilities in addition to theoretical and calculative knowledge?

What should be the short term and mid-term goals in the University which will work together to create a plausible roadmap of your future?

There is no hidden truth that University degree is considered as the gold standard set by a society which is the certificate for your future. But this is an illusion created by your fear and lack of awareness. Millions of students have obtained this golden certificate, but their life is still breaking loose. And most of you will believe that this certificate is going to keep you safe all your lives. This is mostly proving to be the hidden crisis among the millennials. Although, this statement or the fact should not hold mainly in the digital and information age.

Today`s and future candidates must be able to collaborate and communicate in multicultural teams with different stakeholders working in diverse backgrounds. As most of the specific skills will be easily replaced or optimized with machine learning and artificial intelligence tools. Involvement in a critical project requires coordination between different teammates and people management skills. Most of these projects will involve a lot of skills such as reading, writing and discussing new ideas which are the most valuable skill in the future. All these additional learning skills develop with time and are essential to ponder about multiple possibilities and learnings.

Conducting independent research or project in undergraduate school will help you decide the ideal ways to orient your life and career decisions. In addition to orientations, the experience of undergraduate research makes you curious to explore your ideas and expand your integrated learning. To explore your project or vision, it is crucial to listen to your gut feelings which are unfiltered and undisturbed by any other perceptions.

This part of undergraduate research consists of a set of sub-blogs as it is a very important part of this series “HOW TO WIN SCHOLARSHIPS”.

Stay Tuned.

How to Win Scholarships? Share your Ideas

Don`t be scared to share your ideas with people especially when you are studying at a University. Testing and trying different things build the attitude of solving problems and makes you sensitive to handle problems effectively.

Most of the students believe that their ideas are not perfect but perfection is a subjective theme. So, don’t use perfection as an excuse.  Proposing and expressing your ideas independently allows you to initiate at a small level to apply the wisdom and experiences of others in multiple ways if you can follow the potential opportunities where you can express your ideas precisely and clearly can contribute hugely in the world along with personal success

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I will share a very small example from my personal experience—

I proposed a few simple experiments to my supervisor which aligned perfectly with the ongoing research in the laboratory.  My supervisor permitted me to execute the idea. The objective of the idea was to replace the standard nutrient or food solution of algae by the cattle waste to reduce the cost of producing algae. If you are a biologist or studying the related field, you might understand it more. Just imagine that you are trying to replace the plastic with bioplastic.

It is usual if you feel a bit anxious in the early stage of research or start-up because of inconsistency and setbacks. You must keep your concentration and consistency in your project where it belongs and learn to respond with a conscious and calm mind. There will be moments when you will think to quit your project which is mostly due to compulsive behavior or desire for quick results. Let them pass as most of the present problems won’t matter in the coming five months. And remind yourself about consistency or any positive experience that you have read will help you overcome the hurdles. These small choices that you will make for your project will be eventful and culture you to become a problem solver. It is your responsibility, but if you quit the project then your responsibility is over, so make your progress. This is why a student should utilize his University time effectively to have that an extra edge among the cream students.

I was learning and unlearning quickly because I was setting up experiments and failing regularly; therefore, I was producing more data and eliminating the things that were not working. Eliminating things in work or research is one of the best ways to increase the efficiency in your decision making and reaching your final professional goal.

Well, the idea of working in a laboratory is different as compared to attending classes as it is not the standard way of learning in the day to day life.  Occasionally, you will have doubts in your strategy as working on a project without any hope of getting a quick reward is not the way the regular school or university teaches you, but it shows you that it takes time to create something new. It will guide you to respect the audacity of your dreams. You will need to strengthen the ideas by diversifying the experiments or conditions.

The experience of undergraduate research will always have a lot to teach you and will give you important questions to think about.

There is always something to learn in every failure which teaches you to create your problem-solving equation. This attitude of working makes you an extended and better version of yourself by developing your planning, long term patients, and communications skills. More importantly, enjoying the experience of science or creating an independent project is the most rewarding feeling. Consistent trying improves your persuading skills which always give you a prejudicial advantage as you will learn to express better.

I made frequent mistakes which caused me to repeat the whole experiment from the starting. Sometimes, it was taking two months to repeat the complete test because of one small error. The results will depend on your efforts and positive mindset to embrace the passion for science and learning from every mistake.

To win scholarships or convince the selection committee, you need to build a strong foundation which will only progress with time and consistent efforts. You need to understand expressing your ideas in words is very critical for your application to be shortlisted for final selection. It gives you the edge over other applicants and increases your success rate in various forms.

Stay tuned. it is about to get more interesting 😉

How to Win Scholarships? Work on your Networking

Working on your networks features a lot of aspects and the first thing that will pop up in your mind will be – How do we get started? To accomplish something by networking, you need to spend a good number of hours in the right direction.  Learning how to make effective networks in your college experience is the first crucial step to open the new doors of learning and professional progress.

In 2011, In the first year of my undergraduate school, I was interested in scientific research and creating an independent project in addition to the coursework. I had zero interest in the course-work, but I cannot escape it either.  So, I thought that getting a hand on laboratory experience will be the most effective way to open the new path of learning

I always had the motivation of working in a lab back in high school where you can see different life process happening live. This gave me the idea that learning and practicing science are two different things.

But you can at least invest:- 10 Hours/Month for Networking via Email, facebook groups, LinkedIn, Researchgate, conferences and so on.

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Fixing hours and permanent schedule works for some and does not work for some. Keep your time management flexible according to your goals and objectives. But it is important to define your short- term goals precisely. Investing extra hours of networking will indeed require some time management and schedule planning in advance. Most students underestimate or misunderstand the meaning and importance of networking.

With the formula of networking and driven energy in my mind, I started my search of the laboratory in my University by interacting with senior students and researchers. There were hardly any other students either master or undergraduate who was participating as a volunteer researcher. But my experience in high school research projects had put enough enthusiasm to take immediate actions to enhance my communication and learning abilities. The networking has to begin with certain common direction and which could also fit within the framework of your college lifestyle.

I adopted a very simple strategy.

I approached many researchers with a rough project idea of using “Essential oils as Herbicides”. But I didn`t get any positive response for the next six months from anyone. I was not aware of the mistakes I was making at that time. I then went to known seniors for suggestions or if they have worked in any laboratory. And I also for opportunities in other departments as well. Spending time to find useful connections around the department accidentally introduced me to the Director of Parasitology department who happily attended me who was quite an exciting person. He was about to retire now, but in over an hour he gave me a lot of useful information. He also shared the story of her granddaughter who was pursuing her graduate school somewhere in the United States of America. He said and focused on a point that the relationship between supervisor and student is the drive change for all the ideas. It was a critical conversation for me as it made me realized the importance of your relationship with colleagues and supervisor in every step. Communicating with different researchers enrich your experiences and add more strength to your undergraduate school other than exams and assignments.

Moving on

I kept reaching different researchers in my department which has a maximum number of funded projects at that time.  Few gave me the contact details of other seniors who have worked in a laboratory as a volunteer, and another suggested me to contact the director of the department.

With all the hopes, I went straight to the director office and explained my situation in the reception and fortunately, I got the meeting with the director at the same time. I presented him as precise and clear I could tell as per my understanding, and he was completely attentive to what I was saying. I requested him that I want to work in a laboratory. And without wasting a minute,  he connected me with one of the scientists who had recently received funding from the Department of science and technology to work in the project of algae biorefinery to produce biofuels.

Do you want to know what happens next? Stay tuned 😉

How to get PhD when you are not from Top Tier University?

Do you know that your academics or your grade or marks only counts for 10 to 15% in the overall PhD selection process? There are millions of students who score B grade or 60% but are passionate about scientific research and wants to pursue PhD. But most of them think that getting the high score is the only criteria to secure a PhD position in abroad. But let me tell you one thing, that your University name and your score only account for 10-20 percent of the overall selection process. And it does not mean that you will loose all these points if you have 2nd division.  For ex : Selection process involves these main factors as the criteria.

  1. Academic Score (10-20 points)- You will get 20 points if you have A or A+grade, 18 if you have B+ and 15 if you have B. So even if you have B grade, you will still get 15 points and rest it depends on how you make the best of your other 80 points.
  2. Skill set (30-40 points)- It is one of the most important criteria for the selection process and you will realize it when you will start interviewing for the PhD or research positions. As the selection committee will ask you the skills set you have related to the project. If you have 80% of the skill set related to project, your chances of winning the PhD position increases.
  3. Publications/ Research Experience (30-40 points)- Most of the Indian Private Universities does not focus on this part of the system with sincerity at all. They have made the complete mess and are making the business out of it by opening the private research institutes that offers your internships without any real exposure to research work. I have seen most of the students during there junior or sophomore year of college pursuing there internships from private institutes that charge you INR 6000 for the 8-10 weeks of project and also provide you the research project. This is one of the big reason and serious concern that many of us looses the interest in science at early stages.

You have to remember that it the investment of time and hard work that you will put in your graduation time to get your desired PhD. Utilize your summer vacation and internships effectively and make networks with PhD students and scientist all over India. I am aware that securing the PhD in a good institute is not easy but I am also aware that many of us looses hope easily. Sometimes, it takes 2 or 3 years of constant effort and convincing the scientist with whom you want to work for the summer internship. Try to identify your broad research interest during your sophomore or junior undergraduate year and list all the research institutes and scientist where you are planning to work. Prepare your draft email clearly mentioning your research interest and skills you would like to learn. It will be good if you mention little bit about future ambitions but its not so important if you are in 1st or 2nd year as you are just starting your research journey. Remember, its a journey a a long journey. And you are going to fail and get 1000s of rejections. Just prepare yourself mentally and note the points why are you getting these rejections. It is really important to analyse the reasons of your rejections at all the levels of your research journey. This happen even to the big scientist all around the world. No big deal. These words will keep you on the move always. Remind yourself with these words.

 

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The goal during your graduate years should be to maximize the results coming out of your research internships even if it takes to miss couple of classes and loose few marks in your attendance or assignments as it wont mean anything for long term goals. Trust me. The other important skill is scientific writing which will only improve if you practice writing.

The best way is to start writing reviews on the topic you like the most or you would like to explore. 

And if you are working on the above mentioned skills, you are automatically working in your public relations with researchers and graduate students in the laboratory who will definitely help you out to achieve the things you want to. Good public relation means good recommendation letters (10-20 points) which is another criteria for winning the PhD position. A publication in peer reviewed journal will be cherry on the cake but there is no guarantee that you will be able to publish a good research paper while working in the internships or dissertation but there is 100% guarantee that your profile will become solid proof which will show your potential clearly to the selection committee.

What about the extracurricular activities?  What kind of activities will describe you as a leader or a team worker? Try to incorporate yourself with social and community activities that are bringing the change in the human welfare. But not just for the certificate. Because, if you are working for the certificate and recognition, you will never be able to understand the problem at grass-root level. Try to collaborate with someone working in different subject or theme and work in an interdisciplinary topic like women empowerment, sustainable solutions, water management. I am not talking about starting a rally against the government, it`s the solution that you will propose to the community which has the potential to bring the change.