Today, the third day of the ILS, was all about our choices and opportunities both during and after our time at the GSLS.
Early on Wednesday morning I arrived at the Hijmans van den Bergh building to find the whole place crowded with bicycles. After taking some time to find a spot to cram my own bike in (the ultimate Dutch experience, I suppose…), I found myself a spot in the lecture hall. We started the day with an introduction to the ‘Navigation towards personal excellence’ course, that will help guide us during our master programme and help us get a grip on all the possible choices and career paths we might pursue. I must admit, I find myself a bit dazzled with all the choices and opportunities we are offered… And so we continued with some more options for our master’s programme: profiles. You can choose a profile instead of your second (six months) internship, and during today’s lecture, each profile coordinator got five minutes to pitch their profile. Most students do the research profile; a second six month internship in the lab. Other profiles that were presented were for example science and education, bioinformatics, complex systems or management. So if you find out that research might not be it for you after all, there are alternative profiles to complement your master’s programme otherwise. Choices, choices, choices…
Luckily, we got the opportunity to meet alumni of the GSLS; professionals who have progressed down this road of endless decision making much further, who could provide us with some helpful advice. The alumni present covered a wide range of careers, from UU policy makers, to PhD-students and consultants at pharmaceutical companies. Of course, these people cannot tell you which choices you should make to end up in a similar position, but I did receive a number of useful tips! Something that was stressed by most alumni, was to make sure to have a good balance between your work and life, not to forget to take a breath and relax a little every now and then and that every journey has its bumps. By keeping up with your hobby’s and activities that keep you energized, you will be able to keep up with the work and the occasional hiccup.
Another dilemma that almost every GSLS student will face is the question of whether to go abroad or not. The afternoon session speakers enlightened us with their experiences with going abroad. The first speaker was dr. Martijn Gloerich, a principal investigator at the UMC Utrecht, who performed four years of postdoctoral research in the United States. Also two master students shared their, very different, international experience with us. Nila Servaas from Drug Innovation did her second internship in Verona, Italy, and Daan Laméris from Envrionmental biology did a very exotic internship in Cameroon. Take home messages that these presentations were to be ready to move out of your comfort zone when going abroad. In addition to this, joining great research and exploring different cultures makes going abroad a very valuable experience.
The GSLS Buddy Programme was opened by a barbecue on Wednesday afternoon. The newcoming international students met up with their UU buddies and got to know each other better. They also had a chance to experience the inconsistent Dutch weather. However, we were very pleased to see that they came prepared and rain could not ruin the spirit. It was a nice mixture of nationalities, cultures, masters programmes, food, drink and laughter. Approximately 70 students participated in the first event and the buddy programme committee hopes to see them all again at their next event on the 16th of September!
The third day of the ILS definitely left us with plenty of food for thought… Tomorrow we’ll continue with scientific integrity, I am curious to see how the debates will turn out!