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About Pitangus

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  1. Maybe it's different for Cell/Molecular Bio programs specifically, assuming that's OP's interest, but many programs in my area of Biology (EEB/Organismal Bio) fund their thesis-based MS students for two or three years. I graduated from a broad Integrative Biology department that funded all of its MS students, including non-thesis students when enough TAships were available. Getting an MS is actually pretty common for people in my area who want to work for government and NGO research agencies or for consulting firms. Again, could be different for people that end up in the more biomedical industries, but either way I wouldn't say an MS in Biology itself or some of the Biology-related life science fields is uncommon. The main issue, as also mentioned, is whether OP knows why he wants an MS and whether he is just picking the first brand-name schools he could think of. It's not clear what specific programs OP has actually considered.
  2. I rented from afar without visiting first, and it worked out fine for me. I rented from a known management company, not an individual, and asked the leasing office to give me a skype tour of the apartment, which they did. I did all of the paperwork and paid the deposit through the mail without issue.
  3. I've enjoyed my time as a grad student. My experience may be unusual, but in my mind I got to spend five years being paid to do whatever I wanted most of the time. I made my own schedule, worked long hours when I needed to (i.e. summer fieldwork) and didn't work long hours when I didn't need to (i.e. the rest of the year). Like @shadowclaw, I got to conduct research that has direct implications for management decisions, which is what I wanted. And given that I never got to travel anywhere when I was younger, I enjoyed the opportunities to travel for conferences. And I liked getting to live on my own in a new part of the country for awhile. And call it blasphemy, but I found the whole process to be pretty easy. I had good luck in winning fellowships and research grants, so I never felt like a "poor grad student"; in fact, I put away almost $30k in savings during my time here. I picked a group of pretty low-key personalities for my committee, and my qual exams and defense were a breeze. My advisor was only ever concerned about results, so as long as I hit the milestones for productivity, she didn't care what I did or when I did it. When things went wrong with my research, I either spun what remained into something workable, or just used it as a lesson to move onto something more promising. I think maybe I just had the "right" personality for my program, and I went in knowing what was important to me, so I got what I wanted out of the experience. Grad school definitely isn't for everyone, and I would never encourage someone to consider it based on my experience. But for those who are already set on the idea, I think it's worth noting that some people do have a good time with it.
  4. Seasonal field assistant/technician jobs are great for post-bac experience. The paid positions are easier to get if you have some relevant experience, but if you apply for a bunch and/or know someone connected to one then you can still get one. There are also volunteer/internship positions that usually expect less experience, if you can afford that. I worked a couple in the year between undergrad and grad school. I gained a bunch of skills so that I could hit the ground running with my grad school research. The TAMU job board is a nice resource for finding these positions: http://wfscjobs.tamu.edu/job-board/
  5. One likely explanation is that the numerical scores were lower than the reviewers' average scores. An E refers to a range of 40-50 on the numerical scoresheet. It's possible to get all Es that are at the low end of the range, and if the reviewers' averages were higher, then the resulting standardized score (z score) will be lower than for someone who scored higher than their reviewers' averages.
  6. I'm experiencing a somewhat similar situation. My boyfriend decided to stay in our home state in New England rather than move with me. He now has a good job and no reason to move. All he talks about now is how much he's looking forward to me moving back. It's always been the plan that I would move back when I finish my PhD, but now what once felt like a decision I had made now doesn't feel like a choice at all. I've been applying to every post doc, government, and consulting job I can find within 90 minutes of the city where he works. But I'm losing out on post doc positions to applicants that are already post docs. And I'm losing out on other jobs to people with bachelor's degrees and five years of temporary positions that likely count as more "relevant" experience than my research. Maybe I'll have better luck going forward, since I'll be defending (and therefore available) soon. But I've accepted that I'll likely graduate without a job. My only connection is for a possible adjunct position at a community college (which my advisor, unhelpfully, disapproves of whenever I mention it). I will be happy to be back in New England, but I'm not looking forward to the stress of not having a job, of figuring out insurance while I'm unemployed and not married. And I'm worried that I'll take the first job I can get, even if it's only minimally related to what I want to do.
  7. Encountering the next stage of catch-22: successful applicants to postdoc positions are already in postdoc positions.
  8. I realize people get frustrated and are just venting that frustration through the relative safety of internet anonymity, but yes, I always roll my eyes a bit at comments such as "Didn't want to go there anyways." Really? So you wasted money and effort (both yours and your letter writers') by applying to a program that you didn't want to attend in the first place? If true, that doesn't speak too well of your decision-making and resource-allocation skills.
  9. Integrative Biology's interview event is Feb 2-3. Invites typically go out during the first two weeks of Jan.
  10. EEBB is an interdisciplinary program that doesn't hold its own interviews, but most of the departments that are part of EEBB do. What department did you apply to?
  11. Looks like you need to line up a faculty sponsor for your application. This is common with many Ecology/Evolution/Wildlife/Conservation programs: you are accepted into the program and directly into a lab. For some programs, including mine, your application will not even be considered by the admissions committee if you are not sponsored by a potential advisor. In that case, your letters need to be tailored to your potential advisors. You need to demonstrate that you have read and understand the advisor's research, and that your interests fit in with the lab. If the potential advisor describes current projects on his/her webpage, then write about how you would be qualified to work on those projects. Advisors want grad students who will hit the ground running and not spend months waffling on ideas. They want their first-year students to be ready to develop research questions and plan their first summer field season (if applicable).
  12. I served on my department's admissions committee for a year, and the AWA score wasn't really considered so long as it wasn't less than a 4. And no one was rejected based on GREs alone: applicants with noticeably lower scores tended to be lacking in other areas as well. For admission, the GRE in general was less important than research experience, strength of LORs, and perceived match to the potential advisor's lab. That said, it was given more weight when nominating applicants for the college- and university-level recruiting fellowships because the selection committees for those fellowships are known to give it more weight (presumably because it's easier to compare across departments).
  13. I'm applying for non-academic jobs, but I agree that it is stressful not having any idea about timelines and when/if to expect any feedback on an application. For government jobs in particular I worry about getting screened out by HR before someone in the relevant department even looks at my application.
  14. Old topic, I know, but I recently applied for a government position that requested a resume. I decided to make a new resume specifically for this position. I managed to make all of the relevant things fit under the Experience heading of the resume by sorting them by position and focusing on the skills gained/demonstrated. For example, instead of having a list of pubs, I had a bullet point under my grad school position that said something like, "Communicated results to broader scientific and public audiences by publishing in peer-reviewed and trade journals." I did the same sort of condensing and converting for presentations, grants, awards and any other things that are usually just listed under their own headings on a CV. By doing this I was also able to cut my 4 page CV down to a 2 page resume. As mentioned above, I also worked key words and phrases from the job ad into the resume (and cover letter), so that if HR sorts applications using some sort of software first, then I wouldn't get automatically booted for not having a "relevant" application.
  15. I second chaparral's responses and would add that you should first line up your letter of recommendation writers and make sure they can submit their letters by the deadline. If you've already done that then definitely apply.
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