By Kanaga Arul Nambi Rajan, Samantha Jones and Nina Gao
First of all, if you recently received an invitation to UCSD BMS recruitment weekends 2016, CONGRATULATIONS! You are on your way to becoming part of the best biomedical sciences PhD program in the nation!
This year, interview weekends will be February 4-6 and February 25-27. BMS Recruitment weekend will be your first chance to meet and impress your favorite faculty, mingle with current students, and learn about all of the great opportunities awaiting you in the fall. Although our interviews weekend was a few years ago, we still remember all of the excitement, nerves and fun associated with recruitment. To help you prepare for your upcoming interviews, here’s the inside scoop on what to expect each day:
Thursday: The “Arrive, Eat, Relax” Day
By now, you have all hopefully received an email from your student host, welcoming you to UCSD BMS and giving you information about recruitment weekend. Your host will be your student liaison for the entire weekend. He or she will most likely be the first person you meet as your host will be picking you up from the airport (if you are flying in) on Thursday and taking you out to lunch/dinner. You may even meet up with some other hosts and recruits! Take advantage of this evening, as it’s great way to learn about the program and the San Diego area from a current student, as well as review your weekend interview schedule and ask any burning questions you may have.
Friday: “THE BIG DAY”
Friday, you will be formally introduced to BMS. Your day will start around 9:00am and the morning will be filled with introductions by the chairs of the program and admissions committee. You will then meet your faculty host for your first interview. This lunch interview will be your longest interview of the day. You will then have three more 30-minute faculty interviews. Afterwards, all of the recruits will reconvene for a walking tour of campus with a seasoned graduate student. The afternoon will end with a night at the lovely Birch Aquarium for a reception and dinner. All of the student hosts will be present as well as faculty. It is a great networking opportunity, so don’t feel shy about asking questions! Also, take a few minutes to walk around the aquarium, there’s a lot of cool stuff to see!
Saturday: “THE FUN DAY”
Breathe! The hard work was yesterday. Today, it is all about learning about BMS from current students and having fun in San Diego! You will hear about the great science conducted by current students and get a chance to mingle with your fellow recruits. Starting around 10:00am, three senior BMS students will present their current research. Then, for the majority of today, you will get to participate in “Student Activities”. Expect your student host to mention this in his or her introductory email to you. In addition to choosing a great program to join, you should also consider joining a great city like San Diego! To introduce you to SD, you will get to participate in one of the following activities: a hike at Torrey Pines, kayaking in Mission Bay, a harbor cruise downtown, or a trip to the world famous San Diego Zoo! A few current BMS students will join you for these activities. The afternoon will end with a student poster session and then dinner. In the afternoon, there is an optional student housing tour of UCSD graduate housing. If you are considering BMS, living in SD can be expensive so it is a good idea to learn about graduate housing early! Overall, faculty interaction will be minimal on Saturday but heavy on student interactions. It’s a great opportunity to see what your life will be like if you join BMS.
Here are a few notes about the weekend’s general logistics:
- Travel: Make sure you have your travel plans set and ready via the BMS office. When your student host contacts you, make sure you are both on the same page – your host needs up-to-date information about your travel plans so they can best help you on Thursday.
- For those of you who are local residents, make sure the BMS office knows. You will be reimbursed for travel costs, and parking will be made available.
- For the duration of the stay, our first years will be escorting you to and from the hotel and campus. Note from current first years: “We will take care of you!”
- Hotel: You will be staying in the lovely Marriott Residence Inn, right off campus. You will most likely be sharing a room with 1-2 other recruits.
- Student hosts: Your liaisons for the weekend. Ask them question, discuss your interests and keep them posted on your progress. They want to help you!
- Attire: Friday is business casual. Saturday is casual but our advice: wear comfy shoes! Also, though San Diego is beautiful 80-90% of the time, historically, we have had rainy recruitment weekends, so check the weather and come prepared!
Words to the Wise
(A series of tips to help you enjoy your recruitment weekend):
- Again: bring comfy shoes – you’ll be walking – a lot.
- Make sure you have your sentence ready: “Hi, my name is . I am from and my research interests include .”
- Offices in several of the buildings on the medical campus are tricky to find. If you can, scope out a map and locate offices ahead of time.
- Talk to lots of people and ask lots of questions (recruits, current BMS students and faculty) – we are interviewing you but you are also interviewing the program. Consider your priorities and expectations as you talk to people.
- Consider life beyond the science: grad school can be trying. Make sure San Diego is a place you can develop a life outside of lab. Trust us: it helps make grad school easier!
And finally, ENJOY! This is your first chance to mingle with your soon-to-be peers; BMS is a great program with terrific faculty and students and this is your first opportunity to be exposed to it. Enjoy the experience – it will help you see if BMS is the right fit for you.