Myths vs. Facts: The Truth About Landing a Job in Media


Myth #1: Careers in media often involve partying and meeting celebrities.

Fact: While working in media may give you exposure to exciting opportunities to meet a variety of people in the entertainment industry, when working for a media company, you are expected to remain professional at all times. Additionally, extensive hard work goes into events, and festivals including plenty of strategy meetings to ensure everything goes according to plan. Make sure to set your expectations accordingly!

Myth #2: You have to spend a long time in unpaid internships or in assistant roles.

Fact: These days, forward thinking companies recognize the value of young talent with fresh perspectives. Basic administrative tasks are part of any role, particularly those at entry level. However, it is worth doing research through sites like and using your network to learn about these innovative companies that are willing to include interns and entry-level employees in career development activities. Voice your interest in participating in creative initiatives and be ready to jump at any opportunity to partake in strategic meetings.

Myth #3: The only way to a media position is through connections.

Fact: It is true that networking is extremely important in searching for positions in the media industry, and it is common for students to find positions through alumni, professors, friends, and previous colleagues. However in the media industry, creativity and innovation trickle down through the structure all the way to the hiring process. Although connections may serve you well, creative and innovative companies such as the ones that exist in the media industry use social media to find new and interesting talent. Curate your social networking platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr and Linkedin to help build your online presence.  Additionally, build your brand by developing an online resume to advertise your skills with links to your various online portfolios to provide readily accessible work samples. Social media is becoming more and more popular in the media industry to discover new talent, so ensure you are maintaining your networks accordingly!

Myth #4: Careers in Media are just about TV and Film.

Fact: There are a number of valuable career opportunities in media in additional areas such as print, journalism, magazines and publishing. Although you may not be as familiar with these industries, go outside your comfort zone and expand your job search to encompass these companies. Maximize your potential by exploring companies outside of those you might typically consider as ‘in your field’.

 Learn more about the hospitality industry by attending this Wasserman Center event:

All About Books: Panel on Writing, Publishing and Multimedia – Monday, April 20, 2015, 6pm-8pm, 20 Cooper Square, 7th Floor. 

Wasserman Center Internship Grant Summer 2015 FAQ

Still thinking of applying to the $1,000 Wasserman Center Internship Grant, but have some questions? Not to worry, see below! For any questions not covered below, please email us at

Top Wasserman Center Internship Grant FAQs

  1. What is the Wasserman Center Internship Grant?
  2. Who is eligible?
  3. Is this internship only for students interning in not-for-profit organizations?
  4. When are the deadlines?
  5. If I have already applied, can I reapply to the WCIG?
  6. How can I apply?
  7. I recently started interning and my supervisor doesn’t know me well. Should he/she fill out the supervisor form?
  8. I have more than one internship and together I reach the eligibility requirements. Can I still apply?
  9. When are decisions made and checks mailed?


1. What is the Wasserman Center Internship Grant?

The Wasserman Center Internship Grant (WCIG) was established to provide financial assistance to students pursuing non-paying internships in the arts, education, public service, not-for-profits and within other industries that do not traditionally pay their interns. Typically, the Wasserman Center is able to offer approximately 100-120 $1,000 grants during the fall, spring, and summer terms. Applications are reviewed by the Wasserman Center Internship Grant Committee and representatives from various NYU academic departments.

 2. Who is eligible?

Students must meet the following criteria to be eligible for a grant in the summer:

  • Undergraduate or graduate students currently enrolled in degree granting programs at NYU with at least a 3.0 GPA
  • Work a minimum of 20 hours per week for 8 weeks at a non-paying internship at a not-for-profit organization or within an industry that does not traditionally pay their interns in the US or abroad
  • Students must secure the internship prior to the application deadline

3. Is this internship only for students interning in not-for-profit organizations?

No. The WCIG is awarded to students interning at organizations that do not traditionally pay their interns which include the arts, fashion, media and journalism, etc.

4. When are the deadlines?

In general, the deadlines for the WCIG (NYC and Global) are as follows for each semester:





Late September Early November


Mid/Late February Late March / Early April


Mid June Mid June (same application as US)


For the specific deadline, refer to the NYU CareerNet Job posting for the current semester. For Summer 2015, the Job ID# is 967073.

5. If I have already applied, can I reapply to the WCIG?  

If you have applied in the past, whether you did or did not receive the grant, you are able to apply as long as you meet the eligibility requirements.

6. Where and how can I apply?

To apply:

  • Log into NYU CareerNet
  • Download the attached word documents (Application and Supervisor Form) and provide the requested information.
  • Go to the “Jobs” tab to access the Wasserman Center Internship Grant posting – you can search “967073” in the keywords section.
  • Save as separate documents (PDF) and upload them in the “documents” section of NYU CareerNet.
  • After Application, Supervisor Form, and Resume are uploaded, click “APPLY” and select these documents from the drop down menu.
  • Complete required survey at this link:

7. I recently started interning and my supervisor doesn’t know me well. Should he/she fill out the supervisor form?

The supervisor form is not due until the deadline; therefore, you can wait to send in the form. If your supervisor does not feel s/he has sufficient information, it is fine for supervisors to make recommendations based off of what they have currently observed. They may also want to include some thoughts concerning the criteria used in selecting you for your internship.

8. I have more than one internship and together I reach the eligibility requirements. Can I still apply?

Yes, you may apply as long as both internships are non-paying. You should submit  an application (make sure you list both internships and the number of hours and weeks you spend at each) and 2 Supervisor Authorization forms (one from each supervisor).

9. When are decisions made and checks mailed?

In general, decisions are made 1 month after the deadline. For Summer 2015, WCIG decisions will be released on July 21, 2015. In general, checks are mailed approximately 10 business days after decisions are made. For Summer 2015, checks will be mailed around August 5, 2015.

Myths vs. Facts: Landing a Job in Engineering


MYTH #1: Engineering students have no social lives and therefore cannot develop or use social skills during college.

Fact: Engineers today need to think of themselves as leaders, not anti-social people. A college graduate with an engineering degree is approximately six times more likely than a graduate with a business degree to become a CEO of an S&P 500 corporation – and not just among traditional engineering companies. ExxonMobil may be headed by an engineer (Rex Tillerson, BSCE), as is Texas Instruments (Richard Templeton, BSEE), and Raytheon (William Swansen, BSIE), but engineers are also running financial institutions like Wells Fargo (Richard Kavacevich, BSIE) and insurance giants like Progressive (Glenn Renwick, BSME).

MYTH #2: Industrial Engineering is not of use in today’s economy.

Fact: Industrial engineers find ways to eliminate wastefulness in production processes. They devise efficient ways to use workers, machines, materials, information, and energy to make a product or provide a service. Depending on their tasks, industrial engineers work both in offices and in the settings they are trying to improve. For example, when observing problems, they may watch workers assembling parts in a factory or staff carrying out their tasks in a hospital. When solving problems, they may be in an office at a computer looking at data that they or others have collected. Industrial engineers figure out ways to manufacture parts and products, or to deliver services, with maximum efficiency, a much needed skill and career. The key for engineering students looking to get into Industrial Engineering, as with any field, is to make themselves marketable. The first step is to have your resume and cover letter in proper order and the next few steps involve taking advantage of your school resources and networking as much as possible.

MYTH #3: Engineers aren’t creative individuals.

Fact: Engineers are creative problem solvers and their line of work requires minds that are inclined toward both creative and logical thought. It’s a balancing act they’ve mastered that comes in handy during the design and brainstorming phase of a project. When served with a task or problem, engineers understand the logical principles and applications that frame reality all the while deploying their creative juices to come up with groundbreaking plans. In the words of renowned dancer and choreographer, Twyla Tharp, “before you can think out of the box, you have to start with a box.” Engineers rely on their understanding of the boundaries surrounding projects before their creative minds figure out a way to break those boundaries and bring about innovative solutions. If you are interested in seeing how national and global fellowships can help finance your creative  projects, click here.

MYTH #4: Engineers have to love math to be good at it.

Fact: Engineers need to be good at math but that doesn’t necessarily mean they love the subject. The subject is merely a valuable tool on their journey toward an answer to a question. Many engineers do not enjoy math but they stick with it in order to reach what they love most: a solution. This relentless trait shows a sense of resolve, the ability to take on difficult and unpleasant responsibilities without quitting. It’s a trait coveted by employers worldwide. If you would like to take advantage of upcoming networking opportunities to meet the very employers looking to recruit students with this trait, make sure to do so through On Campus Recruitment.

Maximize your job search in the Engineering/Technology/Computer Science/Info Systems/Construction Management/Entrepreneurship industries by attending these events:

Resumes and Cover Letters That Work, April 16th, 1:00pm – 2:00pm  

Acing the Interview, April 20th, 3:00pm-4:00pm

On Campus Recruitment, April 29th, 4:30pm – 5:30pm

10 Tips on How to Follow Your Passion

Sweta Sukhadia is a senior in the College of Arts and Science at NYU. She is majoring in Economics and Environmental Studies with a minor in Social Entrepreneurship. Her past internship experiences have ranged from non-profits like B Lab and the Lower East Side Ecology Center to private sector businesses such as Unilever and Haver Analytics. She has truly enjoyed being a Peer in Career at the NYU Wasserman Center her senior year and will be joining FactSet as a consultant upon graduation.

Finding the right career path can be a difficult task. Students have countless options and fields open to them in college, and it’s easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of it all. While the job market may discourage students from following their passions, it’s important to remember to love what you do. Here are some tips on how you can follow your passion:

1. Get Involved at School!

Become a member of a club or organization at school that aligns with your interests. Most universities have every type of club you can think of ––ranging from debate teams to salsa dancing. Clubs are a great way to keep touch with what you do and meet peers with the same interests. And if your university doesn’t happen to have that club, start it up!  

2. Reach Out to Current Professionals in the Field

One of the most important resources any student has is alumni or current professionals in their line of work. Do some research and find out who currently has your dream job. Professionals can give you insight on their career path, how they got there, and their past experiences.

3. Volunteer

Participating in volunteer activities is a great way to stay in touch with your passions. If you are passionate about public service, spend a Saturday afternoon volunteering at a soup kitchen! Aside from public service clubs at NYU, there are several organizations in New York City that will set up volunteering activities for you.

4. Find Peers with Shared Values

Find other students with shared interests via clubs, extracurricular activities, online communities or even in your classes! Connecting with fellow students will expand your network and expose you to more opportunities.

5. Remind Yourself There are ALWAYS Options

Regardless of what job or internship you may have, there are always ways to switch what you’re doing. You can leverage skills you may have—such as salesmanship or specific computer skills, to help you succeed in a new job that better aligns with your passions.

6. Contact the Career Center

Wasserman has a number of resources to assist you – career coaches, an online portal updated with hundreds of new job postings each day, daily seminars, information sessions, and much  more! If you’re not sure where to start, visit your university career center to get updates on upcoming events and job postings that match your passions.

7. Try an Internship

Don’t be afraid to try a new internship in something you love. Part of the beauty of being a student is access to countless internships. Try something that you may be interested in even if its unpaid, you don’t know where it could lead!

8. Build and Utilize Your Personal Network

Reach out to friends and family—it may surprise you. Leverage the personal connections you have to gain useful advice and career tips! Following your passion as a career may seem daunting, so its important to reach out to the people who know you best.

9. Tap into Old Interests/Hobbies

If you’re not sure of what your “passion” may be, try tapping into some old hobbies! I recently rediscovered my love for singing and have joined a small a’cappella group. Likewise, it’s important to revisit your old interests and hobbies to rekindle a passion you forgot you had!

10. Attend the Find & Follow Your Passion Conference!

Lastly, come check out the Find & Follow Your Passion Conference hosted by NYU Wasserman this Saturday. Meet extraordinary creative, business and nonprofit professionals, and make valuable connections through panels and a network mixer. Registration is free for NYU students.You must register for the event via this link:

Participants will include New York Football Giants, Buzzfeed, Ernst & Young, Google, 360i, Pencils for Promise, HBO, Viacom and more! New speakers added daily! Visit registration link for conference schedule and full list of speakers!

What’s More Important Than Experience? These 10 traits will help you excel at a start-up.

Ariel Lopez is a career coach and entrepreneur with an expertise in digital media and technology.  She has experience hiring marketing, advertising, and tech professionals for some of the world’s most known brands like Amazon to emerging start- ups. She is the founder of 2020Shift, a social enterprise designed to expose minority college students and recent grads to careers in AdTech. Her motto is turning passion into profit and helping others to do the same!

Education is important. Experience is better. The right character, however, is necessary.  Regardless of what school you went to, or how many years you’ve been in your field, employers are looking for the right personality traits.  After working with a ton of startups and major brands, there seems to be a consensus in what’s preferred. Below is a list of 10 of the top characteristics that can take your career from good to amazing:

1. Passion

Passion is an important characteristic that hiring managers look for in potential employees. (Passion for the company, passion for the product, passion for the people, passion for themselves.) Passion can’t be taught; it’s completely innate and has a huge effect on work ethic. When you care about what you do, you do a better job.

2. A Sense of Humor

You spend 40+ hours a week at work, so it’s best to make it as enjoyable as possible. People want to work around co-workers that can provide comic relief without being a distraction. Don’t be the person to send pointless cat videos all day (yeah, don’t do that), but do get out there and show your personality; you’ll be appreciated for it.

3. Discipline

Routine is essential when it comes to doing business efficiently. Not saying that everyday has to be the same, no one wants to live a monotonous life, but there should be some type of schedule when it comes to how you get things done. When speaking to a potential employer, make sure you’re able to clearly articulate how you structure your day and emphasize your organizational skills.

4. Humility

No one likes a know-it-all and, most importantly, employers want to know that you’re coachable. Take responsibility for your actions when you make mistakes; be open to criticism, and don’t boast your accomplishments.

5. Loyalty

This is particularly why your past experience is so important. No one wants to hire someone they think will leave in six months. Hiring managers will spend lots of time contemplating your tenure at different places making sure you’re not a “jumper”. It’s not as easy as times have changed, what used to be a 5-10 year average of employment at a company is now 2-3 years. If you’ve jumped around, make sure you anticipate this response and be able to craft a believable story.

6. Self-Motivation

Often you’ll see job descriptions looking for someone that’s a “self starter” or “motivated.” There’s a reason why. With business transactions moving at a fast pace, you need someone that can keep up and, preferably, with little instruction. The best employees are those that take initiative and foresee challenges before they happen.  Make sure you’re always thinking one step ahead.

7. Leadership

As cliché as this trait is, it’s probably one of the most important. When you start a new position you should always consider your track of progression and how you can become more of a leader within your role. Even if you don’t end up managing other people, you should still exude leadership in everything that you do. From individual tasks to group projects, make sure you’re being proactive and positioning yourself to take the lead role.

8. Execution

Ideas without action are just ideas. No one in business cares about how charismatic or persuasive you are if you aren’t able to follow through. You need to make sure you have action items for every goal you set and project you start. Not only does successful execution help your reputation, but it helps you build a case to ask for promotions and other incentives.

9. Determination

You’ll be challenged with a lot of things throughout your career; your ability to persevere says a lot about your character. If you look at leaders within any organization, they’ve all failed. The difference is that they were able to keep going. To make sure you have continued success it’s important to learn from your losses and stay focused in reaching your end goal.

10. Positivity

Who wants to be around a negative Nancy all day?! The people that constantly complain about their jobs, and don’t have a positive attitude, usually don’t progress very far. Every person you meet with should walk off feeling better for getting the opportunity to get to know you. Make sure that your energy is bright and infectious. Smile often, show your personality, crack a joke—make yourself memorable.


Interested in working at a start-up?

Attend the Diversity at StartUps Event  (Hosted by 2020Shift at Varick Street Incubator in BK)

Clear your calendar – It’s going down! Diversity at StartUps kicks off on April 15th, and you’re invited! 137 Varick Street (2nd Floor) is our meeting spot for a candid discussion on diversity and startup life. Hear from our panelists on how they’ve navigated their way in the industry and how you can accelerate your career.

RSVP and MORE INFO (Including panelist info) VIA BELOW LINK:

5 Perks of Being a Peer in Career at NYU Wasserman

Janel Abrahami is a graduate of NYU Steinhardt’s Applied Psychology program. She represented the Wasserman Center for three years as a Peer in Career, and now works in Campus Relations and early career development at NBCUniversal. You can find her talking about all things work on Twitter @janelabrahami and LinkedIn.

I had several valuable internship experiences as an NYU student, including one abroad, and landed my dream first job before I graduated last May- and I credit all of this to the knowledge and experience I gained as a Wasserman Peer in Career. Here are my Top 5 reasons to apply to be a Peer in Career yourself:

  1. The advisors: When you become a Peer, you automatically have access to the fleet of incredible career counselors there. Instead of waiting for a pre scheduled, 30-minute appointment to weigh the pros and cons of a particular internship offer, you can email one of your Wasserman advisors whenever you need to, and get honest feedback from a familiar source much more quickly. As a Peer, you have these advisors in your corner to make sure your resume is always up-to-date, your interviewing skills are always polished, and your professional future is as bright as it can be.

  2. Resume-Building Experience: As a Peer, you will be able to say you have given presentations in front of various groups, managed a team or committee, planned and executed events, marketed said events and the Wasserman Center at large, and wrote articles and social media posts (like this one!). All of these are transferable skills relevant to almost any job or internship out there and will set you apart of the rest of the applicant pool.

  3. Insider Access: Peers in Career receive in-depth training in NYU CareerNet’s functionality and features, making your own job/internship searches so much easier. You will also have one-on-one access to the employers looking to hire NYU students, as you staff or host various events like NYU’s Jobs and Internships Fair, Attire for Successful Hire with Macy’s, and Dining for Success with recruiters from top financial firms.

  4. YOUR Peers: You will get to know other driven, career-focused students from all across the university that you may have never met otherwise. By definition, Peers are ambitious, resourceful, and looking to make the most of their NYU experiences- who wouldn’t want to be connected with them?

  5. The Swag: No, seriously. Wasserman gave out the most varied, and most useful, swag of any other student club I was a part of at NYU. Umbrellas, track jackets, breath mints, and thermoses (all stamped with the sleek Wasserman logo) were all lifesavers at some point in my college career.


    Apply to Become a Peer in Career!

    Applications are available now. Search Job # 962469. Deadline April 15th.

    The NYU Wasserman Center is seeking enthusiastic undergraduate students who are interested in serving as campus career ambassadors, expanding their knowledge of career resources, and helping students understand all that the Wasserman Center has to offer!

NYU Image Assessment- “What are YOU Wearing”…(for your career interview)

Victoria Duruh has been an internationally recognized top model director for 11 years. She also produced fashion events, booked top clients (e.g. Lancôme Int., Maybelline, Revlon/Cream of Nature, Abercrombie and Fitch, L’uomo Vogue, Teen Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Sports Illustrated) and celebrity appearances, and has done scouting, castings, film festivals, 2014 Oscar’s and other events. Victoria is currently working on Image Management with Wall Street Men advising on style, wardrobe, accessories, image, confidence and more.  Do you want to learn more? Read Victoria’s interviews with top hiring decision maker executives on appropriate appearance – e.g. Wall Street, Finance, Marketing, Public Relations, Fashion/Entertainment, Media/Communication – for specialized tips for  dressing for success.

The Basic Guide for Achieving Success 

Congratulations!! You just landed your dream job interview. Now, here comes the first challenge….figuring out what to wear to the interview.

While you may actually have all the right qualifications of the ideal candidate your dream employer is looking for, and you may confidently know it, neither of these things matter, if potential employers cannot actually see proof of that.

And by proof, I am referring to the professional IMAGE of yourself.

The stakes are high. First impressions are created in the first few seconds of walking in the door, and they rely mostly on nonverbal cues like body language, and yes, clothes. Arrive inappropriately dressed and you risk being judged as less competent or intelligent before you even begin talking.

If you make a bad impression with what you are wearing, you could spend the rest of the interview simply trying to make up for it instead of sharing all the incredible talents that make you the right one for the job. You likely have the foundation. But there are still some details that even the best of us might not be getting right.

The interview is probably one of the few places where you do not receive feedback on your own performance. Although you might not always be confronted with bad wardrobe choices, do not think that it goes unnoticed.

Employers will rarely communicate that your wardrobe, accessories or body language contributed to a less favorable interview impression. They may not even know it themselves, since many of these impressions are subconscious. Employers view candidates as a potential future reflection of the company. It will be noticed if you portray any negative image.

So, I put together some photographs of the fashion back to basic suitable business attire that will help you land the job.

1. Industry Appropriate Basic Attire Choice – The wardrobe from the top to the bottom, suits, jackets, pants shirts, ties, socks and shoes for men and suit, dresses, skirts, shoes and tights for women, needs to account for differences in industry. For example, “what works” for Wall Street, does not necessarily work for Hi Tech or more creative industries….Classic with a Twist!

2. Proper Clothing Fit – The clothes must properly fit, both to conform to industry expectations as well as frame the student in the most favorable light. Inexpensive clothes that fit perfectly will look better than a Bergdorf’s wardrobe. That does not fit pants that are the incorrect length or shirts that are too blousy or tight, will send a subconscious, if not conscious, message to the interviewer.

3.  Colors, Fabrics and Textures – Putting your best foot forward to facilitate the most confident image also involves choosing the colors, fabrics and textures that best flatter each individual based on different heights, weights, skin texture, hair color, bone structure and other factors.

4.   Proper GroomingThis includes the basics in proper haircut, hairstyling, shave, sideburns, eye brows, tattoos, etc.



5. Appropriate Accessories – A Finishing Touch…Generally keep it Simple, but there are tips on how to ensure that accessories complete clothing and ones own image, including jewelry, watches, ties, tie clips, handbags, tote/brief cases, and earrings, etc. And nose rings for men  (Generally “Just say No”).

6.   Key Body Language Signals – You never get a second chance to make a first impression. How a student walks, sits and carries them throughout the interview sends strong non-verbal messages. The eye contact and handshake are key. The goal is not to create identical interviewees or job candidates, but to avoid students sending negative signals before speaking a word.

 For more information and/or schedule an Image Assessment, please contact Victoria at .


Business Card To Relationship: 3 Steps To Take Following A Networking Event

Whether you are attending the Find & Follow Your Passion Conference at NYU hosted by FindSpark on Saturday, April 18, 2015, or any networking event on campus- follow these steps to develop career relationships that will help you land your next job.

 1. Follow up with everyone you spoke with, preferably within 24 hours of the event.  At the end of any meaningful conversation with an employer, ask for their business card.  On the back of the business card, jot down a note that summarizes your conversation.  Use this to reference something specific about your conversation in the email- this will help them remember you.  For tips on how to write a powerful email, read FindSpark’s blog post, How to Get Employers to Respond to Your Emails.

 2. Set up an informational interview with an employer you met at the event.  Wishing you had more time with a certain employer?  Send an email that expresses exactly why you would like to meet with them, either for a phone call or a coffee near their office.  Let them know that you would like their advice as it relates to your professional development.  Ask for advice, not a job, as you begin to develop the relationship.

 3. One of the best ways to keep in touch over time is to share relevant articles, blogs or industry events via email that might be of interest to your professional contacts.  Show them that you are passionate about the industry and want to be a resource.

For more advice from FindSpark, read How to Get Hired at a Networking Event to make the most of your time at professional conferences and networking events.

Click here to learn more and register for the Find & Follow Your Passion Conference on Saturday, April 18th. New speakers and panelists added daily! See you there!

Science Scholarships and Fellowships: A Different Type of Security

Michael Burel is a Ph.D. candidate studying stem cell biology at NYU School of Medicine. Michael graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Georgia in 2012 majoring in cell biology and writing. During his undergraduate career, Michael conducted research on induced pluripotent stem cells and brain development. In 2011, he received the Goldwater Scholarship for his work under Dr. Steve Stice on deriving patient-specific neural stem cells for future use in regenerative medicine and drug discovery. Michael now conducts his doctoral research under Dr. Erika Bach, where he was awarded the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship to study how stem cells compete with each other during stem cell transplantation and cancer. In addition to his research, Michael is the founder and content director of Biocanvas, a worldwide online platform that helps scientists leverage their own research data to communicate what they do to the public.

Science isn’t what it used to be. Gone are the days when scientists could explore “good” or “interesting” ideas knowing funding will certainly flow from somewhere. In light of recent government funding woes and dismal grant success rates, scientists must now scramble for every penny up for grabs. Failing to do so doesn’t just mean an experiment goes undone. Often, it means the letting go of key personnel and labs teetering perilously on the verge of permanent closure. The struggle is real.

I have felt this struggle since day one. I entered science research my first day as an undergraduate at the University of Georgia (UGA). Ever since, I have lived in a climate of funding uncertainty…not just in the lab, but also on campus. Coming from a not-so-wealthy background, I learned the hard way that college is expensive. Really expensive. Practically any student will attest to the crippling debt of loans to pay tuition, fees, books, boarding, and meals. More often than not, those saddled with this burden enter into a “la-la-la, everything is fine!” mentality as compounding interest piles on despair cent by cent.

As much as I would have liked, I never had the option to exercise this avoidance behavior. As a junior at UGA, I successfully applied for the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, a fantastic scholarship opportunity awarded to undergraduates pursuing STEM fields after graduation. The day I learned I won the scholarship, I called my mom so we could both hysterically scream and sob over the phone. The scholarship was not just an acknowledgment of scientific merit; it was a financial lifeline when I needed it the most. My time as a Goldwater Scholar provided much needed financial security, freeing my mind to think of other things like research, classes, and the tantalizingly close date of graduation.

Now a Ph.D. candidate at the School of Medicine, I have once again felt the struggle. Ph.D. students are heavily encouraged to pursue external funding during our graduate school tenure. External funding for scientists provides two powerful gifts shared by almost any fellowship: a sense of validation (yes, you are a great scientist!) and a sense of security (yes, we will pay for you!). I began to seek out external funding opportunities for my time at NYU, and once I learned about the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (NSF GRFP), I put my all into securing one.

The NSF GRFP combines my interests in exploring fundamental stem cell biology questions while disseminating science information to broad audiences. While at UGA, I pursued a writing curriculum to create Biocanvas, an online platform that helps scientists leverage their own data to communicate what they do to the world. Since its inception, Biocanvas has accrued over 180,000 active readers, and its upkeep is as important to me as my doctoral research. The NSF GRFP encourages and supports recipients to not only conduct groundbreaking research, but to also engage in activities that spread the benefits of science outside our tiny laboratory universe. This support, coupled with funding security for three years, empowers creative potential and leeway to research potentially risky science topics while developing and evolving outreach activities.

In applying for the NSF GRFP, I have found the key to success lies in the delivery. After being nominated for the Goldwater Scholarship, the Major Scholarships Coordinator at UGA gave me this piece of advice that has stuck with me ever since: “You are handing them a package. Every paragraph, essay, transcript, and reference letter must sing together and deliver one cohesive message.” When preparing your applications, decide what your message is. What, in one sentence, are you attempting to convey to application readers? Who are you and who do you want to be? For me, my message was: “My passion for research equals my passion for communicating and increasing access to science across all groups.” (This is an actual excerpt from my NSF GRFP application.) I then provided evidence in every document to support that statement. I even sat down with my reference letter writers to clue them in on my message and ensure they could speak to that statement. Crafting your message early results in an application that feels complete and congruent, because everywhere a reader looks, they will find echoes and evidence of your message.

Moving forward, the NSF GRFP has allowed me to consider career options that marry my interest in science, communication, and outreach. The NSF’s support and expectation to do science for the great and the good will undoubtedly springboard me into my next career endeavor. It’s a type of security that transcends the financial, and you can never put a price on that.

Thursday April 9th, 2015, 5:30pm – 7:00pm | Presentation Rm A 
Current NYU students who have been recipients of nationally competitive fellowships such as Fulbright, the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, and NYU’s Gallatin Global Fellowship will share their experiences and provide tips on preparing a competitive application and a Q&A session Time will be reserved for informal networking. Light refreshments and snacks will be provided. RSVP here

In Case You Missed It: Day In The Life at Peace Corps

Did you miss a day in the life at Peace Corps?  Click on the image below for a recap!

Interested in hearing more?  Don’t miss International Service with the US Peace Corps Informational Session 4/9!  RSVP on NYU CareerNet.

Follow us on Twitter @NYUWassEmployer for tweets on a day-in-the-life of employees at different organizations. A professional will take over our account for the day and give you live updates about the projects they work on, meetings they attend, and the culture of their office.