Career Clusters Preparation

Preparing for Graduate School in STEM: Advice From 3 Current Students

Image of science flasks and two clear glass jars

Did you know?

Based on results from the Class of 2019 First Destination Survey, 19% of Boston College graduates who pursued a graduate degree, chose a STEM—science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—field, up 2% from the previous year. STEM is consistently ranked among the top programs of study for BC graduates, and it’s easy to see why. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in STEM occupations is projected to grow by 8.8% between 2018 and 2028, compared with 5% for non-STEM occupations. Careers in STEM also offer exciting opportunities to use scientific inquiry, research, data analysis, critical thinking, and programming to solve complex real world problems and drive innovation in service of the common good.

If you find yourself considering graduate school in a STEM field and are curious about what factors to consider when deciding where to apply and how to prepare, then you have reached the right place! We asked three current graduate students in STEM programs at BC to share their perspectives on these topics.

How did you decide to pursue graduate school?

Melody Harper, Current Biology Ph.D. Student
Sarah Canarelli, Current Chemistry Ph.D. Student
Siddhi Krishna, Current Math Ph.D. Student

What factors did you consider when determining where to apply and how to prepare?

Melody Harper, Current Biology Ph.D. Student
Sarah Canarelli, Current Chemistry Ph.D. Student
Siddhi Krishna, Current Math Ph.D. Student

What advice can you give to undergraduates who are considering graduate school, particularly within STEM?

Melody Harper, Current Biology Ph.D. Student
Sarah Canarelli, Current Chemistry Ph.D. Student
Siddhi Krishna, Current Math Ph.D. Student

Meet the Graduate Students

Melody Harper

Melody Harper, Biology Ph.D. Student

After graduating with her bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Northwestern St. Paul at age 20, Melody disenrolled from academia to decide between medical or graduate school. She investigated many career paths during this gap time: from medical scribing to chasing orca pods across the Puget Sound, from tutoring organic chemistry to training sharks at the Minnesota Zoo. The diversity of experiences culminated in clarity as to how she should apply her scientific passion. Currently, Melody is a second-year Ph.D. student in the McMenamin Lab studying skeletal regeneration and patterning in Danio rerio.

Sarah Canarelli, Chemistry Ph.D. Student

Sarah Canarelli

Sarah is a second-year graduate student in the Chemistry department. She received her bachelor’s degree from Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY. While at Le Moyne, she majored in chemistry and minored in biology and visual arts. Following graduation in May of 2017, she took a gap-year during which she tutored in chemistry and biology and prepared her graduate school applications. Choosing a graduate school was not an easy decision for her, but looking back, she feels that coming to BC was the best decision she could have ever made. As of now, Sarah would like to go into academia after graduation. She is particularly interested in bringing high-impact research to a primarily undergraduate institution, like the one from which she received her bachelor’s degree.

Siddhi Krishna, Math Ph.D. Student

Siddhi Krishna

As an undergraduate, Siddhi’s goal was to become a behavioral economist. To this end, she studied math and economics (among other things!) in college. Siddhi graduated from Brandeis University in 2012. Unsure of what to do next, she did a summer internship at Arnold Worldwide, a major advertising agency in downtown Boston. Realizing this wasn’t quite the right fit, Siddhi returned to Brandeis to pursue a master’s degree in math. This is when she discovered “low dimensional topology”, the study of 3- and 4- dimensional spaces. This is her current area of research. Siddhi will be graduating with her PhD in pure mathematics this May.

If you’re considering graduate study as your next step, your career cluster coach can help you think through this important decision and create an action plan. The Career Center offers resources and strategies to help you at every step of the application process. We encourage you to schedule an appointment on EagleLink to start the conversation.

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