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By Eileen Ly

Don’t you ever miss those long, lazy summers when you were young and carefree?

When summer vacation actually meant no work whatsoever?

 

Source: giphy.com

Don’t you ever miss the guilt-free time you had where you got to lay around on the couch, marathon tv series in days, play video games all night long, read all the books you ever wanted to, spend all your time browsing the internet, sleep till noon every day, hang out with your friends, go on fun (or dreaded) family vacations, and complain about how bored you were?

Sigh. I do.

But, I really enjoy my internship at the same time. Currently, I’m working a full-time paid internship at Asian Americans for Community Involvement, a multi-service non profit organization in Santa Clara County. There, I’m working to help implement Electronic Health Record systems (EHR) for the clinics and programs.

 

Source: www.aaci.org

For those of you who are curious, this was my first paid work experience; I had had a long list of unpaid volunteer experiences. To help offset traveling costs and academic expenses, I receive a stipend from Health Career Connections, a large nonprofit organization that offers internship placements, networking opportunities, and career workshops.

As for how my internship experience went, I would highly recommend this experience, as I learned how to network with various healthcare professionals and build my own confidence through independent projects and strong mentoring. The most challenging part of the job was finding my own voice and persona in the workplace, as not just an intern but as a leader. I feel as if I was able to mature and grow this entire summer, and I wish all of you, no matter what you choose to do this summer, will be able to achieve the same sense of satisfaction and growth I experienced this past summer.

 Source: http://www.healthcareers.org/regions

And so, I hope you’ll find this article/masterpost to be of use in your summer search. To make some things easier, I’ll be splitting this post into 3 key components: Before the Application/ Application, The Interview/After the Interview, and The Job.

Therefore, this post will be Part 1: Before the Application/ The Application.

I’ll be talking about searching for opportunities, figuring out interests, and offering some application pointers. It’ll be a bit of a long post, but I’ll break it down into doable steps as I have with my other posts to make it easier for you guys to read. Along the way, I’ll be adding in examples from how I came to work at AACI over the summer and other personal comments/tips. I’ll be marking my experiences with an EX) so you can feel free to read ahead if you’d like.

Before the Application:

  1. Know your time frame during the summer.

Source: imgarcade.com

If you’re planning on doing other things during the summer, you need to know how much time you want to spend every day at your job. This will help you determine whether you want a full-time or part-time job, and for how long during the summer. Come up with backup plans in case you don’t get a job. Like volunteer work or personal goals.

Ex) During the Fall Quarter of 2013, I set a goal to keep my summer entirely free to either get a paid full-time internship, volunteer at clinics, shadow doctors, or learn how to drive on the freeway!

  1. Research opportunities based off career or personal interests.

Source: thetandashow.com

Taking the time to sit down and do some research will really help you in the long run in terms of finding out what you want to do. Browse the internet. Even if you don’t know what you want to do, you should still apply for opportunities that will broaden your experiences, develop leadership skills, allow you to network with professionals and coworkers, and/or gain new skills. This may be off the side jobs like taking wedding photos or something. The key is growth. To be productive and successful, you need to actively thinking of where you want to be in the future or what kind of professional you’d like to be.

“Where should I start?” “Is there anything at Davis that could help me?” The answer is YES. UC Davis has an extremely extensive Internship and Career Center (ICC) with great resources like the Aggie Job Link  (job search engine for UC Davis students and alumni) and more links on how to find an internship

Here’s a map of where ICC is located for those of you interested:

Source: http://icc.ucdavis.edu/eps/contact.htm

For those of you interested in hospital volunteering or clinical internships in general, ICC also has a health-related internships site.

Ex) I spent a good part of my early Winter Quarter just looking for things to apply to and then applying to them. I had only recently decided I was pre-med after attending the annual UC Davis Pre-Medical and Pre-Health Professions National ConferenceBecause I was undecided about life after college, I highly recommend the conference to anyone who is interested in or passionate about healthcare and/or students who are unsure about career paths in healthcare.

Being  pre-med, I was looking for experiences that would help me gain a better understanding of the healthcare field and further develop my interests in medicine. This was not limited to settings like hospitals or clinics. (Although I was dreaming of it.) I had to keep a really open mind as to what experiences I wanted, since lots of clinical research, hospital shadowing, student-run clinic volunteer positions are all really competitive to get into. Wanting to help other students find out more about Davis while developing my writing skills is why I’m here writing up this blog for my fellow Aggies. :)

The opportunity that got me my summer internship was Health Career Connection, a large nonprofit internship placement program. I first learned about HCC through a facebook post on the UC Davis Jobs and Internship Page, and decided to apply to the program. CHECK IT OUT! Especially if you’re looking to build networking skills and are into public health policy. :) The staff there is amazing, and HCC offers workshops on how to find a successful career, grad school planning, and workplace skills.

The Application:

  1. Read the application really WELL.

Source: www.hobolunchbox.com

Whether it’s an online or offline application, know what is expected of you (professional or casual, types of tasks you’re doing), and what you need to turn in with your application (resume, cover letters, letters of recommendation). Pay attention to EVERYTHING. THE SMALLEST GRAMMAR/ SPELLING MISTAKE COULD POSSIBLY RUIN YOUR CHANCE. This goes big time for really competitive positions. I really can’t stress this enough, and your writing professor can’t either.

  1. Prepare your materials and self ahead of deadline.

Source: www.gifsfln.com

I know it. You know it. It’s not just bacon we have to prepare for; it’s life. We’re procrastinators and this is the hardest thing to do ever when you’re also a full-time student. But, might as well start practicing for when you have a job and get to work on being productive. You’ll want to give yourself a lot of time to write, edit, and get feedback on your materials. The Internship and Career Center  has perfect resources for this type of stuff. They have workshops and people who are paid to help you edit your resume and finetune your interviewing skills. BE SURE TO USE THIS AMAZING RESOURCE! (It’s part of your tuition money!)

Ex) I spent a lot of my time just formatting and editing my resume during fall and winter quarter 2012. I went to the Student Community Center, where a resume specialist from ICC was there to help me.  I asked some of my housemates to help me proofread and edit. I looked up examples of resumes, cover letters, and curriculum vitae. I’m a pretty big procrastinator but whenever I got tired of homework, I’d go ahead and look up resumes, job applications, and plan classes. (It’s procrastinating but in a good proactive way.) Probably not the best tip during midterms or finals but hey, I’m trying to improve.

  1. APPLY!!! Sit down, and start getting your application done! Probably the most important step ever. I believe in you. :) Treat this time as much as you’d treat a job or internship. And then go reward yourself!

Source:www.littleanimalgifs.tumblr.com

Ex) One thing I like to do if I’m applying for several things is to create a separate word doc where I’ll put down: position title, application deadline, expectations, setting, goals for why I want to do this position, things to turn in with my application (resume, transcript, letters of recommendation), and a link so I can just click it later. This way, I get organized about what I need to turn in and why I’m doing the position. This can also help you determine which positions you would like the most, in case you get into all of them. ;)

EILEEN’S TL;DR

The most important thing to be successful and happy is to go forward with intent. Use the resources you have to move forward, even if it’s just a small step. Use the long summer months as a chance to grow and adapt, so you can make yourself a competitive applicant for other opportunities like hard-to-get internships, grad school, med school, etc. Along the way, you’ll find out things about yourself that you never knew, or even figure out what you really really want to do.

Source: www.gifbay.com

IF YOU STILL HAVE QUESTIONS/WOULD LIKE FURTHER DETAILS:

Please feel free to submit an ask to Aggie Voices about any questions or requests you may have (aka: Health Career Connections, Asian Americans for Community Involvement, ICC internships, pre-med stuff in general, student-run clinics, Pre-Health Conference and more). Plus, if I forgot to mention something, which I probably did, LET ME KNOW. Or if you have other helpful tips and stuff, ALSO LET ME KNOW!!

—-

STAY TUNED FOR PT. 2: The Interview!

By Jaren Soo Photo by Jaren Soo, pictured on left in the Memorial Union bowling alley

Six weeks came and went by in a flash during my summer at UC Davis. As a requirement for my Masters programme in MIT, I had to take a module on Fluid Mechanics. As I graduated only in June back in Imperial College London, UC Davis was a place that offered the course in the best possible timeframe. Moving from London to Davis was quite a change. Going from the hustle and bustle of city live to a quaint, little farmland (well, at least people in Davis call this place a farmland of cows!) that houses a large university campus, I would say the change was quite drastic. But at the end of the 6 weeks, I took away fond memories of this place together with friends that I met during my time here.


Back in London, I was blessed with a large Singaporean community where I could just talk to a lot of people in my most comfortable language, Singlish, otherwise known as “Singapore English” (some call it a form of bastardised English, but we leave that debate for another time). In London, I also had access to supermarkets and other amenities within walking distance. Everyone drove on the same side of the road, the same electric plug head, the same electric voltage, the same use of metric units, the same English spelling… the list goes on of things that I was used to. Knowing that there wouldn’t be anyone I’d know in Davis made me feel highly apprehensive, but I could only take things one step at a time. Coming to Davis was a leap of faith to explore things on my own outside my comfort zone.


As I eased myself into the environment in Davis, I began to find out differences between the UK/Singapore and the US. Driving on the other side of the road felt odd, having to think for a while (and eventually still not getting it) when people talk in Fahrenheit and inches and feet instead of Celsius and meters. These little differences made me feel a little out of place.


For example, the very first time I ordered a meal with rice from a food truck (yes, the food truck that parks outside the Silo; a must-try for all Davis students!), I was looking for a spoon for my rice. However, it turned out that everyone uses a fork to eat rice here! That took me a while to get used to.


With that said, it didn’t take me long to feel very well-settled into the environment. I was blessed to have met the entire UC Davis International Summer team, especially Kathy and Emily, who had been very helpful in my transition from an urban city campus to a university town. Activities organised by the summer school team also played a big part in making me feel at home by meeting new friends. The bowling session in the first two weeks (seriously, bowling alley in a university?! Where else would you find that?) allowed me to be acquainted with two of my friends, Paul and Yuri (see picture at the top of this post!). It was not long before I started hanging out with Paul on a regular basis, who introduced me to some of his other friends who happen to be doing their graduate programmes in Davis. Paul, Yuri and I even went out to San Francisco on a road trip together (and another picture below)!


Lessons were very different from the way it was in the UK. Apart from the smaller class size because of the summer sessions, the classes placed less emphasis on the traditional closed-book final exams. It was quite a shock to me when I first found out about take-home exams (don’t judge; I know you secretly are). I was pleasantly surprised by how much take-home finals and student presentations helped me meet new people. It was a refreshing change from the UK educational system!


As I embark on my graduate programme in MIT this coming Autumn (it is the end of the second week of class here in Cambridge as I am writing this!), I am truly appreciative of my time back in Davis as it prepares me for 1) life in the US in general and 2) stepping out of my comfort zone, mixing with non-Singaporeans. I can just go on and on about my experience at UC Davis, but I suggest coming and experiencing something here on your own!

image By Mandy Chew


Graduating from UC Davis was bittersweet; I was more than happy to leave behind projects, midterms and finals, but it also meant moving out of Davis, a place I considered home for four years. Being a nostalgic person, I spent my final weeks in Davis recounting my favorite Aggie experiences, leading to this cartoon about the Davis squirrels.


These little critters have given me a mix of emotions throughout my undergraduate years. They have amused me with their “games of tag,” frightened me with their sudden leaps into the road, and surprised me with their silly — but oddly humanlike — behaviors. I mean, who wouldn’t want to drop everything and just lie down on a hot summer’s day?


So the next time you are out walking through the beautiful UC Davis campus, keep an eye out for the Davis squirrels!


Mandy graduated in 2014 with a double major in design and economics.

By Tania Renteria
Photo by Gregory Urquiaga


We all expect the same thing from summer: hanging out with friends, enjoying the beach and watching beautiful sunsets without a worry in mind. But at some point, reality hits and you realize that sometimes there are some other important things you have to take care of. We all know the stresses that school can bring, so taking away some of that stress of the regular school year can be a great way to get a higher GPA, get to know professors, or even take a class you are really interested in but have no time to do during the regular school year.


Of course, the thought of summer school is sometimes not as appealing as other summer activities. However, think about the advantages of taking fewer units during the spring quarter or the opportunity to take the classes you’ve always wanted to, but perhaps never felt like you had the time, to take.


Why spend the summer taking classes you may ask? Well, for me, the answer is easy: taking classes during the summer can help me get ahead and catch up. If I want to get a pesky course out of the way, I can do it over the summer. Taking a full 16-unit quarter with upper division classes does not sound one bit fun during the academic year, but taking these classes in a smaller environment over the summer gives me more confidence to ask questions in class or go into office hours. I am not the person who is open to asking for help all the time, which isn’t the best thing, but having less people around makes it so much easier to get help anywhere its offered.


With taking just two summer sessions, one session each year, I have now been able to catch up on all of my major requirements and can even have the opportunity to graduate a quarter early. Although all the perks of summer session are great, it’s important to keep in mind that they all come with hard work. You definitely have to keep up to date with your reading and assignments because in a short six-week period, there is no room for falling behind.


Taking NPB 101 and CHE8A this summer really showed me that summer sessions is a lot of work, but the great thing is that it’s over quickly and you can get courses out of the way. The six weeks of hard work pay off with another six weeks of fun, and another year of less stress and more room for living it up in Davis!

By Eileen Ly

You’ve been tapping your pencil against the desk for the past minute, trying to rack your tired mind for an answer. You know you’ve seen the answer before; it was right there on your desk last night as you were studying for that other final you have right after this one.

Bio..bio..bio-something. You jot down an answer you think is right. But you know it’s not going to come to you anytime soon…it wasn’t something you thought was going to be on the final…at three in the morning…

Final…final… For the umpteenth time, you curse your past genius self for thinking you could have pulled off three back-to-back finals. What could go wrong, you thought?

Hopefully, you will never find yourself in this position. But if you do, like I did my spring quarter of freshman year, I feel for you. I feel for you really hard.

So, what do you do if you can avoid this type of finals situation?

image

Image source

Just kidding. Who has time to cry when you’ve got three finals to study for? It’ll only dehydrate you.

You just have to sit up, grind your teeth, get that computer out, pull out those PowerPoints, get your notes, whip that pen or pencil out, and tough it out like the awesome student that you are.

It always helps to break this process into steps, of course, so here is a guide for surviving three final exams in a row.

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By Laurel Carney


My advisor told me that, once, while observing a walking tour for incoming UC Davis students, she overheard the tour guide claim that yes, UC Davis is a great school for research, provided that you’re a student of the sciences. “I don’t think they do any research in the humanities,” the guide said, much to my (English) professor’s horror. When many of us hear the word “research,” we think about lab coats, fluorescent lights, and sad mice with three ears. So, then, what does undergraduate research in the humanities look like? And how does one get started?


Well, for me, it took on many forms! But first, it began with a question—when checking out the Wikipedia page of Anne Bonny, a famous female pirate, I came across a term I’d never heard before: “pleading the belly.”


I did a little digging, and what I found fascinated me. It turns out that “pleading the belly” refers to a clause in early modern execution law that stated that a woman convicted of a capital offense could receive a temporary stay of execution if she could convince the court that she was pregnant. I was particularly interested in the role that story-telling played in such a practice, given that the court reached its decisions based on their “readings” of these women’s bodies, as well as the oral testimony and literature surrounding the case.


As an English major with a double emphasis in Creative Writing and Literature, Criticism & Theory, I designed a hybrid project that would allow me to use historical and literary research to inform a collection of short stories, exploring the role that fiction played in reading women’s bodies, as well as in the “facts” of their crimes, deaths, and pregnancies.


Although these are not exactly research questions that require a lab coat, I still wound up engaging in a lot of experimentation to reach some answers. Under the patient guidance of my faculty advisor, I spent a lot of time in libraries, both here at UC Davis and, after applying for and receiving funding to travel to London, the manuscript archives at the British Library! There I was able to find the handwritten, nearly 400 year old notes of the physician who attended one of the women I was researching.


Of course, my research was to inform a series of short stories, so I was sure to step out of the library and take in as much of the physical environment as possible. I took advantage of in-depth walking tours and neighborhood historians. I was even able to visit a (previously) unmarked mass grave for early modern female criminals and their children, and speak with locals who had been passing down stories about these women for generations. In an attempt to honor those who had been cast aside so ruthlessly centuries before, vigils are held once a month at the Cross Bones Graveyard. Participants sing songs, read poems, and tell stories about themselves as well as the “outcast dead.” Talk about bringing the past to life!


Since my research was related to detecting signs of pregnancy in early modern women, I was curious about the state of medicine (particularly obstetric and gynecological) in the 16th and 17th centuries. So I was sure to pay a visit to archives at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, as well as the Old Operating Theatre and Herb Garret, where a number of medicinal herbs, surgical tools, and documents are preserved. There, hundreds of years ago, physicians could watch as men and women endured operations and amputations without the aid of anesthesia or disinfectant.


I also visited the site of Tyburn Tree, the very spot where many of the women I had been researching had been executed—the name refers not to an actual tree, but a gallows from which the condemned were hanged to death.


Of course, some of your research can be gastronomical, and you can’t go all the way to London without visiting the world’s greatest consulting detective:


The people who tell you the food in England is bad just want all of the halloumi and beer for themselves.


So that’s what research in the humanities looked like to me! But what about you?


The truth is, there are a number of programs and resources available to UC Davis undergraduate students that are interested in conducting a research project of their very own, be it in the humanities OR the sciences! Is there a professor you’ve always wanted to work with? The MURALS program (Mentorship for Undergraduate Research in Agriculture, Letters and Science) will pair qualifying students with a faculty mentor that will help guide them through the process of formulating and conducting a research project of the student’s own design. I was really nervous to ask my chosen professor to work with me on this project, but I’m really happy I did! Try to find someone whose class(es) you loved, whose interests match yours, or whose own research you admire!


Does your research require you to have access to rare materials, tools, or specialized equipment, or perhaps to travel to a specific museum, library, lab or historical site? The Provost’s Undergraduate Fellowship funds the independent research of many students each year, with awards of up to $1,800! And once you’ve finished your project, you can present it at the Undergraduate Research Conference, and publish your findings in Explorations: The UC Davis Undergraduate Journal!


All in all, having the opportunity to ask my own questions and (quite literally) travel the world in search of answers was the absolute highlight of my life as an undergraduate. Maybe my whole life. I got to work with professors that I greatly admired, handle centuries-old documents, take on both academic and creative writing, eat lunch in a crypt, take a nap in a castle, and even try to sneak into Hogwarts. If you’ve got an idea for a research question, or even just the desire to ask one, seek out the assistance of a favorite professor or the people at the Undergraduate Research Center. My experience is proof that no project is too strange, and no question too trivial, provided that you’ve got the passion and drive to back it up! What have you got to lose? Good luck, and happy hunting!


For more on Laurel, see A Day in the Life: An Undergraduate Researcher in the Humanities


Want to get involved in undergraduate research but don’t know how? Check out the UC Davis Undergraduate Research Center!

By Tania Renteria

To me, Davis is a hidden treasure. You may think you know everything that Davis has to offer; one day you can get the calm and comfort of a college town, but the next day, you find a city of adventures waiting for you. If you have attended UC Davis even for just one year, you know how amazing this place is and the many hidden secrets this town has to offer. Even though the summer months may seem quieter, the rising temperatures can still offer a lot of fun experiences and adventures around Davis.

On Campus:


A local and fun activity is hitting up the Recreation Pool, and cooling off after a long Davis summer day. The Recreation pool is free to students who are attending Summer Sessions. A day pass, which gives you access to the pool all day, is also available for just $2 (for continuing students) even if you are not enrolled in any summer classes. The Recreation Pool for me is part of the staycation at UC Davis over the summer. I can always go to class and end my day cooling off by the pool that is right across from campus. Not only does it give me a break from pressure of school or work, but it gives me an opportunity to socialize and even meet new people who are here over the Summer.

15-Minute Bike Ride:


A more nature-filled activity to cool off during the summer is visiting Putah Creek. Putah Creek actually runs through campus but what many students don’t know is that it runs all the way past the neighboring town of Winters and into Lake Berryessa (which we will talk about soon). Putah Creek offers many recreational activities, such as: fishing, swimming, and kayaking. Although the lake does not provide the equipment, people are allowed to bring their own and enjoy themselves!

20-minute Car Ride:


Lake Berryessa is definitely my favorite place to visit over the summer. Going early in the morning while the sun is still coming out is the most beautiful thing you can ever experience. The hike in and of itself is a work out, but when you reach the top, you can get the most amazing view of the lake.


There are also great places where you can go swimming in Lake Berryessa, and if you are also more on the adventurous type, there are some awesome rocks you can jump off of to take a dip in the lake! Lake Berryessa is a great get-away without the cost of a much deserved fun time. Every time I leave, I always want to return as soon as possible because I know how close this nature paradise is to Davis.

New! On Campus:


For the first time, Summer Sessions at UC Davis is holding fun summer events - like movie nights, bowling, and ice cream socials - that go on during both sessions. They’re all free for students, making it easy to come and enjoy the company of old and new friends on campus. These events for me create a way to make new friends over the summer and enjoy the great things that campus has to offer me over the summer. As I help run some of the events, I can’t help but get really happy when I see new friendships forming and people return to events with their new friends.


Don’t be turned off by taking some classes over the summer; you don’t have to be stuck studying all the time. Staying in Davis over the summer can also be a time to discover new places and ways to study. I’ve never been so open to finding new ways to study and enjoy our college town. Summer in Davis is the perfect place to try new things, so dive in, check out some of the links below for more information about these fun activities, and plan the adventure you’ve been waiting to have all summer. I know you’ll enjoy it!


More information:
REC Pool http://cru.ucdavis.edu/content.cfm?contentID=47
Putah Creek http://daviswiki.org/putah_creek
Lake Berryessa http://daviswiki.org/Lake_Berryessa
Summer Sessions Events http://summer-sessions.ucdavis.edu/summer-events/index.html

By Aubrey Harper

It’s midnight… The day before you assume your position as a Freshman at UC Davis… What are you doing? Packing, obviously. I have a theory that if you are done with packing more than 3 hours prior to your departure, you aren’t allowing yourself enough of the last-minute panic inspiration that packing truly requires.

As you are sorting through your giant mound of things to begin your life as an Aggie, here are some items you should definitely take out of that stack.

  1. Printer. Unnecessary space/outlet stealer. I’m an English major, and never used CLOSE to the allotted 250 prints per quarter. First of all, (most of the time) professors let you turn hard copies in double-sided. There’s a good chance that the majority of your written work will be submitted soft copy, anyway. Those of you who will need PDFs in class can easily print out them out without worrying about running low on prints, as I did this and never got below 100 pages all three quarters.

  2. Excessive knick knacks. Chances are, you will have at least one roommate. Chances are, they will have friends. Chances are, you will have friends. With all of these people in the room (not to mention the inevitable mess of textbooks and laundry) your room will probably look like this sea of minions. Don’t risk things breaking or falling into a crevice you will never find it again.

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  1. Doubles of things. This means coordinate with your roommate. There is a lot of stuff that can easily be shared. My roomie and I shared a full length mirror, and the girls next door ended up sharing it, too. Stuff like mirrors or even air freshener, blow dryer (c’mon boys, I know some of you use those), microwave, fridge, etc. either aren’t used enough for multiples to be purchased or just take up too much room. Plan ahead by asking your roommate what he/she is willing to share and setting some basic guidelines about how the shared belongings need to be treated.

  2. Things you don’t already normally use. It’s great that you have been wanting to start sewing your own clothes, but maybe leave the bulky sewing machine at home. There’s plenty of time for trying new things in college, but don’t sacrifice space for a potential new hobby.

  3. The classic “Back to School” complete office set. While you definitely want to have the basics on hand, college requires different materials than high school. I found this out the hard way. I brought a 3 hole punch, stapler, paper clips (varying sizes, of course), and multiple post it packs. Maybe I’m not the avid office supplies user that you are, but all of that really wasn’t necessary. Your computer is likely to replace most of the notebooks (except for things like math and the like). Bring only the essentials (paper, a couple pens/pencils, eraser, MAYBE a highlighter) until you find that one class really requires post its or paper clips, which are all sold at the UC Davis Bookstore.

 

I hope that you have a great move-in process (and that it isn’t raining while you carry your life in boxes inside a crowded dorm building like it was for me). There will probably be things you brought that you don’t use, and vice versa. Check out this handy list of 10 things you SHOULD bring, and get ready to have an amazing first year.

By Jimmy Recinos

Photo by Gregory Urquiaga of Andy Jones’s Freshman Seminar on Exploring Davis

“Was there some sort of mistake?”

“Did they get my SIR?”

“What if they forgot about me?!”

“WHY ME?!”

For a moment, I can recall my own eagerness during the summer before my new school year as an incoming junior to UC Davis. I was a rabid and nerve-wracked mess! In waiting to hear from the school about what was next, I could only talk to myself as I stared and blinked at my new but still relatively quiet UC Davis email account.

Of course, everything was just fine, and I made it through a tough summer to register for classes the same way everyone does. You’ll do it too.

Of all things, you’re probably most eager to figure out what kinds of classes you’re going to take. You may even wonder, “What kind of classes are available to incoming freshmen and transfer students?”

Well….

It really depends on your major, but there are still some general customs that apply. In my own experience, there’s one kind of class structure that I would recommend to anyone from any major! It’s called the seminar. By its official definition from UC Davis’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, the seminar course is described as “[a]n exciting program of innovative seminars that reflect instructor’s intellectual interests. These once-in-a-lifetime courses promote intellectual exchange, critical thinking and community.” By my own definition, I’d posit that it’s the best kind of class you can take at the UC, EVER!

Now, to be sure, there are two kinds of seminars: The freshman seminar, and the upper-division seminar. The first, as you might imagine, is set at a pace with respect to the inevitable culture shock that our awesome institution will create for INCOMING students. The latter, on the other hand, is for students who are ready to take their grasp of the discipline to the next level. As an INCOMING junior, I took the upper division seminar, and almost immediately, I FELL IN LOVE.

HERE’S WHY:

1. ENGAGEMENT: Let’s be honest here, with general courses open to everyone, it’s only natural for some of us to feel disconnected from our professors when we’re just one in a crowd of a gazillion other students. This is where the seminar differs, in that they place both students and their professor face to face, and mano y mano.

For my own upper-division seminar, I took a course called Intersectionality in Shakespeare, and at the most, there were only 10 other students in class aside from me. This made for highly stimulating discussions, a fair turn for each student to share their thoughts, and the notion that during the course, we weren’t just going to class to take something away, but we were also there to build something.

A case in point: During this class, we created a “commonplace book,” in which we collected and organized different quotes from our assigned readings to make a cool reference guide for different themes such as humor, irony, power and more! This got everyone to participate, and it was great to know that my classmates and I were quite literally developing something by coming to class, something of our own doing, and which we all shared in.

2. RECIPROCITY: Throughout all my time in college, I can’t count how many instances I felt like there were never enough moments of digression, where rather than a professor going on with the general theme of the day’s lesson, it’d be more fun to hear their thoughts on this other thing. By contrast, with seminars, while there’s still a general set of ideas to think about during discussion, there’s far more room to let exchanges between a class flow, like in a real conversation! This is because most of the time, rather than ignoring one another’s comments, students speak to one another and reciprocate the courtesy of attentiveness and engagement.

3. COMMUNITY: Considering the above, just think again about the results of meeting with a small group of people for 10 straight weeks to simply have a conversation for a while. In the midst of it all, it’s more than likely that you’ll be sharing laughter with this group, connecting on a flurry of light-bulb moments, and that you’ll arrive to class expecting to see “the ole gang” in a familiar, and friendly way.

This is a natural outcome of the seminar course. After all, through seeing each and every one of your fellow classmates, learning their different names, and distinguishing their voices, thoughts, and the other tendencies that make them unique, you’ll come to really know them in a comfortable, and even fraternal way. Make no mistake about it, this can go the distance for the rest of your undergraduate career, in other classes, at get-togethers, and in the myriad of other tiny moments that make up the memorable undergrad experience.

With this in mind, the INCOMING class of 2014 should know exactly why they should look forward to a seminar course! BECAUSE SEMINARS RULE!!!

- Jimbo </:-D

In response to Eileen Ly’s post, “Help! What am I Majoring In?” we received this submission from the UC Davis library. Great advice!

The University Library is a great tool in the decision making process for picking a major. A visit to the University Library and a talk with one of our many subject specialists Librarians can help one explore the kind of work people do in any academic field. The library has great introductory texts, the key journals in each field of study, and academic society publications. By seeing what is expected from different professions and careers, students are better positioned to make an informed choice about their futures.

David Michalski, Social and Cultural Studies Librarian