We kick off our graduate student series with Amy DeJong, who was on the Amazing Race, IFTSA president, and is going to get her PhD in Candy.
Talking to her, she really hones down on doing your research for graduate school and it really boils down to finding things you’re comfortable and passionate about.
For example, you have to really dig in if the people you work with are friendly, or if the place you’ll be living at is your style, and of course, you should be studying something you absolutely love.
Here are three subjects that should be taken in consideration when you apply to graduate school.
Find a Professor You Can Work With
Amy’s suggestion to finding a professor to work with is to email them. Though some won’t respond, you have to establish a personal connection with them before starting graduate school. Another piece of advice Amy brings up is that you can actually email the graduate students and lab technicians as well.
It is important to find the culture of not only your professor, but also the lab environment. You have to know how your professor works such as how he or she manages projects, answers emails and sets meetings. Some want constant updates once a week, others will ask you to report to them once a month.
Interviewing the current lab mates are equally important. Are the labs clean, do they have the right equipment? Are your lab mates OCD? Are they messy? These are all very important questions!
Because the lab mates are very similar to you, they can also answer a variety of other questions such as what the town is like, what are the best places to eat, or dance at.
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Find a Place You’d Love to Be In
Amy loves Wisconsin because it has an intimate culture and it’s near some amazing lakes. Caroline enjoys the food and craft beer scene in Raleigh, North Carolina. There are some universities that are in bustling cities, and some in farm towns. Some colleges are very diverse while others not so much. It’s very important to visit where you are going to go.
I did not do this for undergrad, but since California is so nice and expected, it really didn’t matter to me. However, you should visit graduate schools because you need to talk to your potential professors, view the lab equipment, and probably scout how the town feels.
Find a Study You’d like to be Infatuated In
Being infatuated in what you study is vital to your future. In fact, a lot of PhD students get their thesis, become experts in their narrow field of study, and then get a lot of gigs if the topic becomes hot.
It’s pretty easy to be infatuated with a subject as tangible as food. Both Amy and her friend Maya were studying Candy and Ice Cream. Subjects that would make any field of study jealous.
The best part about having an advanced degree in food is that food is tangible and applicable. It’s also… delicious!
Overall, you need to do your research thoroughly. Graduate school can last 2 to 5 years so it’s important to do your research or else you’ll just be miserable there. Amy did a lot of research, and she also had a lot of options. Her company, Wrigley, was very supportive in her higher education endeavors and worked with her to find out where she would like to be, what their resources were, and what connections they had with academia.
Last of all, Find Yourself First
This is a call back to Caroline Campbell’s advice where she mentions that it’s important to find yourself first. Maybe you should work a little and study abroad, or just Eurotrip for a while. Graduate school will always be there and when the time comes, you realize when Graduate School IS right for you.
When the time comes and you have absolutely no idea what to do, we here at My Food Job Rocks! Have interviewed a ton of experts and have compiled a nice and readable Graduate Study timeline for your convenience. This tells you what to research, and when to study for the GRE. We want to make the graduate student application as painless as possible so you can have time thinking if grad school is right for you.
You can check out our updated page here: myfoodjobrocks.com/graduate