Any caveats, regrets, or observations you have that you want to share? (How to be more competitive retrospectively?)
I would say having more internships is really important, I only had one internship experience after graduating from college. So when you are a senior, do not be afraid to find summer internships. I think both research internships and industry internships are good. I think if you are applying for research positions, choose the former, if you think you will definitely go to industry, definitely take industry. If you are hesitant between the two, take both to decide which one you like better.
What personal advice would you give to applicants?
Start early, at least half a year before the deadline. That is the most important thing. I wish I had spent more time doing research as an undergraduate, and also had more internship experience.
What do you advise for international students during this trying time?
I think everything is actually getting better now! If you have a plan for going abroad and studying, don’t hesitate and just follow your plans.
What is your lifestyle like as a graduate student, how does it compare to undergrad? How many hours per week does the average student in the lab work?
During this semester in a pandemic, on weekdays, I usually get up at 9 am, and then start my research routine, including doing analysis, having lab meetings, taking on-line classes, drafting research papers, and reading scientific literature, until around 6 pm. I will set aside the evening time for having some fun and not doing anything related to my research unless I have a deadline, so the next day I will be full of energy for my research routine again! Sometimes I will still think about research ideas or how to start my work the next day during the “non-research” time.
How often do you meet with your PhD advisor? Is your PhD advisor typically available when you need help? If they are not around, how do you get support? What kinds?
We meet every week and she is super helpful. If my advisor is occupied and can not reply to my e-mail in a timely manner and I have something urgent for feedbacks, I will go for other lab members (post-docs and other Ph.D. students) for suggestions.
What personal advice, observation or caveats would you like to share?
Don’t be stressed and do not care too much about peer-pressure. To some extent, peer-pressure is good, I am really stressed about my friends going to industry and making some achievements in their work or job and I am still on campus doing research which makes me stressed sometimes. But at this time, tell yourself that you made the right decision and you will finally get what you wanted.
Angelika (Liang) Zhang
Angelika is an Environmental Engineering Ph.D. student at UC Berkeley. She is working on applying short-term memory neural networks on streamflow time-series predictions and synthesizing high-resolution remote-sensing data from 30 watersheds across the US.
Feel free to connect with Angelika via LinkedIn
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