You picked Imperial to become a scientist, engineer or a medical doctor. What do these careers have in common? You’ll need to write a lot: scientific papers, grant applications, lecture notes, popular science articles. Unfortunately, university curricula lack writing courses, so we end up with thousands of unreadable scientific papers. In my research I’ve chosen some mathematical methods just because the authors made them easy to understand; nobody has time or energy to look for interesting science hiding behind word clutter.
I’m a mathematician, not a writer, and my writing is far from perfect. Let me share five tips to improve your writing so that you can learn on my mistakes.
Studying at Imperial College can seem like the perfect recipe for falling ill. One part stress, two parts exhaustion and liberal dashes of damp, pollen and air pollution mean that lots of students – myself included – have to deal with being sick in London at some point.
Thankfully, the NHS is around to offer quality care, but navigating it can be tricky, as I’ve since learned. For example, many people think that the NHS is free but that’s not exactly true. It’s free at the point of care. This means that only the services you access at NHS clinics or hospitals are free.
As the academic year comes to an end, I thought I’d reflect on my first year at university.
Here’s the thing- we all have a tendency to sugarcoat. We share all the good, but seldom the ‘bad’ times. Sure, there’s the occasional (or frequent) posts about workload and stress; but how many of us actually openly share our experiences when the goings get really tough? Following my last blogpost, I’d really like to keep the honesty streak going.
First term was a bit of a nightmare for me- it was almost a process of trying to rediscover myself in a sense.
This is the one where I open up.
“Imposter syndrome is a recognised phenomenon, first identified by psychologists in 1978, and describes a feeling that your achievements are undeserved and the fear of being exposed as a fraud. Those with imposter syndrome tend to feel that luck rather than ability lies behind their successes.” (1)
Getting into Imperial was a massive deal for me. I had not planned to apply at all- but I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life looking back with what ifs.
I didn’t think I was smart enough. I’ve always had a fluctuating impression of myself; ranging from borderline conceited to possessing a pretty low self esteem.
Years of research squeezed into three minutes? That was the task I and eighteen other participants of Imperial College Three Minute Thesis competition had to face on Tuesday 24th April 2018.
The rules are very simple. Contestants get exactly three minutes to describe their research to general audience, using only one static slide. Sounds easy, but trust me, it’s extremely difficult. How do you introduce your narrow topic, explain what your research involves and persuade the audience that they should care in the first place?
All nineteen of us managed to do that. I learned a lot about a variety of research areas, from planting forests in Brazil, to optimal mixing of coffee and milk, to gravitational waves.
Most people have an incredible facebook account. 500+ friends, tons of photos and videos. However, I’ve stopped using Facebook as a social media platform – there are many reasons why but I won’t go into them here. That said, Facebook is definitely good for communicating with everyone, but beyond I just feel aimlessly scrolling through the posts on Facebook just isn’t healthy.
Instead, I’ve started using LinkedIn and have never looked back since. Students are worried about getting internships. Most of us are anyway. Do not underestimate the power of LinkedIn here. I’ve gotten a fully fledged summer internship at one the largest banks in the world through a simple message from a recruiter, and almost 20 messages flooding my inbox throughout the year.
You may have seen a company called TeachFirst around Imperial during the year. They are a charity that helps schools combat educational inequality due to different backgrounds, (i.e. children from homes with lesser financial background). So why am I talking about them?
For students, they offer 2 programs, an insight program and a graduate scheme. Last April, I got into their insight scheme which consisted of 2 weeks:
- One week training
- One week placement in a school
This was, without doubt, one of the greatest experiences of my life. I understand that many at Imperial/elsewhere look down upon teaching, but hear me out.
This is how I’ve been wasting my time.
As the holidays came to a start- my initial mindset was, “Oh, I’ve got looaaddss of time. I definitely deserve a break. One more season of this show on Netflix won’t hurt.” It must have slipped my mind that the exam on the day I go back is not a mock. Now that I’m about 70% through my Easter/Spring break, I am filled with regret and drowning in revision. :’)
- Watching a season of Hell’s Kitchen
The first thing I did was binge watch as soon as the term ended. Personally a big Gordon Ramsay fan, even though he’s not a believer in Vegetarianism/Veganism cries.