Life as a Grad Student

For the last two weeks I've been completely devoted to the Immigration Course (for all incoming PhD students in the Computer Science Department). Yesterday marked the end of the course, and the beginning of my life as a graduate student! Hooray!

The Immigration Course was basically a crash course in all the research that is being done at CMU. Every day from 9:45 to 4:00 we would listen to several professors give thirty minute snippets about their research. The point of this mentally exhausting task? FIND AN ADVISOR! From the thirty minute snippet we are supposed to decide if the prof is someone we want to do research with. If so, we schedule appointments with them and discuss. On September 30th, professors hand in their pick of students, and students hand in their pick of professors. They all get sorted and that's how you end up with an advisor. Then the real work can begin.

Along with organizing technical talks by professors, the Immigration Course exists to perform a sort of social hazing. Almost every night there is some activity (usually involving alcohol) to coax us timid first year students out of our shells. These have included: two potlucks, a boat cruise, kayaking on the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio river, and several parties and bar nights. Tonight is our very last organized event. We are headed to a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game at PNC park.

A couple pictures of activities during the last two weeks:

Kayaking at the Point. That's the Ohio river behind me.

We were kayaking right downtown, under all the bridges.

The boat cruise people made us split into groups and take awkward pictures as we boarded, no doubt hoping we would buy the photos from them later.

1 comment:

  1. That's a really neat concept. I wish my school had something similiar to that. We are left completely on our own to figure out what professors are working on and who has research that interests us. There have also been no social activities to introduce us to other new students. I usually don't like forced socialization, but it would have been nice to meet other first year graduate students who are going through the same thing as me (so far I have only met one--someone in the Environmental Studies program who is also a TA). It is tough feeling like you're the only new kid, or the only new kid who doesn't know what they're doing yet...


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