Student Insider: Mary Chessey

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Advice for getting a postgraduate degree in Physics:

  • In physics (and many STEM fields), grad school is free and you earn a paycheck for teaching or doing research. The paychecks are enough for rent and living expenses as well as for savings or paying off debt from undergrad (like I have!).
  • Work with your classmates often. Constantly reevaluate whether your group motivates you or intimidates you. If someone makes you feel dumb, it's not because you're dumb; it's because they're not very nice. Invite the people who make you feel good about yourself to work with you.

Tips for starting your own on-campus Physics society:

  • If you're ever feeling lonely, isolated, overwhelmed, or disconnected from your program, think about creating a new organization for students in your department. If it doesn't already exist, you should be the one to make it happen.
  • An important purpose for your society will be simply to let people talk about their feelings as human beings in your department. Focus initially on developing friendships and a sense of community by doing fun activities together. Meetings should be a positive experience for everyone.

General advice on postgraduate degrees:

  • Research and work experience will be a huge help for your grad school applications. Try to offer a few hours per week to work on a project for a professor, or find out more about summer research opportunities or internships. By doing this, you will not only find out more about your own research interests, but you will also make contacts who can write letters of recommendation on your behalf.
  • Applications to grad schools are expensive, but applying to many places will increase your chances of connecting with the right program for you. BEFORE spending all that money on applying, find out what you can about lots of schools. This will help you apply wisely.

Want to learn even more? Check out Mary's suggested Physics groups: Empowering Women in Physicsand Drexel Women in Physics Society.