Job Prospects

Yesterday, I had my first day of work at my new job. Myself and one of the other Briggs Calculus LAs are the two tutors that will be running the RCAH Math Help Room, which also started last night. We met at the classroom a few minutes before it was set to open, met with some RCAH employees and the RAs for Snyder/Philips and Mason/Abbot, and ate some doughnuts. It was pretty chill, as meet-and-greets go, and we weren’t just completely ignored by the RAs. Plus, two students stopped by around 2100, so we weren’t completely useless! Pretty good for just two hours of work, and I’ll be working there again on Tuesdays for the rest of the semester.

Now, why did I take this job when I already have a fine job as a Briggs Calculus LA? A few simple reasons, really, one of which includes a third job which I haven’t mentioned yet.

The Briggs Physics professors contacted me a week or two ago, asking if I wanted to be a Physics LA for next year. I’ve applied for this position for the last two years, alongside the Calculus position, but I never took the job. My first year as an LA, they decided that I didn’t have enough experience yet (plus I hadn’t taken a single physics course through State yet…), so I got into the calculus track. Last year, I received the calculus letter first, and, not wanting to be without a job for a year, took it. I found out a few weeks later that I had been accepted for both positions, but since Briggs will not let a student be an LA for two different subjects, I only worked the one job.

Which brings us back to the present. I got the e-mail, talked with one of the professors about my MDRS mission (he had been involved with The Mars Society for a while around the time that FMARS and MDRS were starting up and saw my article in The State News), and decided to tentatively accept the position after thinking it through for a few days. While I haven’t received my actual letter yet, that’s just a waiting game at this point, so I’m not worried about not having a job for my senior year.

Why did I accept? Well, after next year once I get to grad school, I’ll either be working as a Physics TA or as a research assistant. Getting a year of TA experience under my belt before starting grad school will help me secure one of those positions, helping to cover my costs on my way to earning a Ph.D., which is my eventual end goal. Plus, making more a semester isn’t too bad either (depending on how many sections I work or if I’m a lab LA), especially since my summer internships are up in the air.

Speaking of summer internships, I’ve decided to rank them, just in case I get accepted to more than one. Of course, this would depend on exactly what project I’ll be working on at each (which I may or may not be informed of when I get a letter), the costs associated with travel and other expenses, and the actual timeline of the internships, which thankfully are pretty flexible. So, here’s the ranks:

1 – NASA JPL, NASA JOHNSON
2 – UC DAVIS
3 – NASA GODDARD
4 – NOTRE DAME

For those first two, I seriously don’t know which one I’d go to more. I could get some more planetary exploration-type experience at Johnson, but I could also be involved with more of the computer science and robotic side of things at JPL. It makes the decision harder when you consider that two of my fellow MDRS89 members are (currently, at least) those two centers, making it seem like at this point choosing a favorite sister. I think that I’ll be hearing back from the first of my possible internships within the next month, but it may be much longer away.

And that takes us back to this new job at the RCAH Math Help Room. I need to extra money, especially considering the fact that my bills are currently a large chuck of my bi-weekly pay, not considering certain “soft” expenses which I have tried desperately to cut from my life. I’ve already cut out soda and a lot of other things that I normally enjoy, partially for the health benefits and my experience at MDRS, and partially for the fact that they cost much more. It also doesn’t help that I’ve gradually lost money from Christmas time, even considering everything else that’s going on…

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