Kimberly Beck's Story
Get to know a few of your professors well. This provides you with people to go to for advice throughout college and your career.
—Kimberly Beck, PhD, Assistant Professor, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Pharmacy Program Director
I was a first-generation college student. The following are a few things that I learned are important during college.
First, get to know a few of your professors well. This provides you with people to go to for advice throughout college and your career. Also, at some point, you will need professors to write letters of recommendation for you for internships, graduate school, job opportunities, etc. A professor can write a much better and personalized letter for you if they know you. And, if a professor knows you have a particular interest, they will forward opportunities to you when they hear about them.
Second, if you think you might want to go to graduate school, get research experience during your college years. This includes working on a project with a professor throughout the academic year, participating in the Butler Summer Institute, or doing summer research with a professor at another institution or in industry. Graduate schools, particularly PhD programs, want to know that you know the frustrations—as well as the highs—of research, and that you still have a passion for it. Even if you do not go on to graduate school, having research experience is a way to show you have practiced critical thinking skills.
Third, get as many different experiences as possible during your college years. This includes study abroad, extra-curricular activities, internships, etc. When you go on interviews, experiences are what the interviewer wants to hear about. Interviewers want to know what skills you learned from your experiences, such as leadership, self-motivation, problem-solving skills, working on a team, etc. Many employers are more interested in experiences, or how you applied what you learned in courses, than the actual courses you took.