Why Political Science?
I started out as an economics major, but took some political science courses out of personal interest. And the more political science courses I took, the more I loved them. They were engaging, interesting, and offered insights into a world that is shaped by politics. Yes, the courses were tough, time-consuming, and sometimes overwhelming, but I learned so much about the topics and about myself. I began to discover and formulate my own opinions and beliefs. I took courses on a wide variety of topics, and tried to expand my perspective. Eventually, I decided to double major in political science and economics because there were just so many interesting classes that I wanted to take.
What are you currently doing?
I am currently a data coordinator at Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah, working on a small team that manages data, provides database support, and gathers study information for over a dozen different cancer research teams.
What experiences at WWU helped prepare you for your current work?
I had a number of professors that emphasized good writing, and as a result I developed writing skills that have been a valuable asset. I wrote numerous research papers, some utilizing statistical methods, and learned from my professors' feedback. One incredibly valuable experience was working on an independent study under the supervision of Professor Debra Salazar. I analyzed data on an issue of interest to me and presented my paper at the 2011 Political Science Association Student Conference, where it was awarded the Hoover Prize. I highly recommend doing an independent study and participating in the PSA conference!
I have been able to carry those research, writing, and analytical skills into my professional life. While working as a research assistant at the University of Utah on a project that calculates autism rates in Utah, I contributed to papers and projects by writing and conducting statistical analysis. This included co-authoring a brief report on autism prevalence for a Utah Department of Health publication. My current position at Huntsman Cancer Institute further applies these skills and experiences, relying heavily on writing, analysis, and working with data.
Professors that you build a relationship with during college can become a valuable resource after you graduate, if you stay connected. Not only do they have advice or possible job connections, but they are often willing to act as a personal reference during job searches, depending on how closely you worked with them or to what extent they can speak about the quality of your work. Keep in touch with those professors you talk to often or whose classes you always take, and don't forget to thank them for all they've done!