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Research or leadership

momofsenior1momofsenior1 8302 replies70 threads Senior Member
My sophomore chem e was asked to apply for a very time consuming leadership position. If she's accepted, it will mean that she'll need to push off doing undergraduate research until her senior year.

She seems to be tracking towards getting her MBA down the road but isn't 100% sure. She was planning on applying for a more scientific R&D position in the one summer she has off from her co-op so she could compare and contrast environments and better gauge her own interest. She's worried that she'll have no shot at that without having research on her resume first.

She will be talking to her profs and advisors for their input, but I'm curious to what people in the field would advise.

Is it possible for a student to obtain a paid research internship based on classwork and co-op experience alone?

Should she prioritize doing research first and then re-applying for the leadership position as senior?

TIA.


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Replies to: Research or leadership

  • lookingforwardlookingforward 35111 replies398 threads Senior Member
    What sort of leadership position and is it at all relevant to her post grad wants? Would she still have opps to regularly participate in that activity, if she turns the leader role down?
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 8302 replies70 threads Senior Member
    edited November 2019
    It would be for the honors college mentor council:

    https://honors.purdue.edu/current-students/student-leadership/mentor-program/mentor-council/index.php

    And yes, if she doesn't do council, she can continue on as a mentor.

    Her resume is heavy in leadership experience at this point and she's seeming to crave more training opportunities.

    Her co-op is for a company's engineering leadership development program so yes, this would align with her current wants but again, she does want to try a pure research internship as well.

    She's afraid she'll close some doors if she doesn't have research on her resume and that's what I'm trying to gauge.
    edited November 2019
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  • eyemgheyemgh 5619 replies122 threads Senior Member
    There's really no "right" answer to this. As they say, anything we say yes to means saying no to something else. It sounds like she has plenty of leadership involvement already and wants a taste of research. If that's what her gut says, that's the way she should go.
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  • OhiBroOhiBro 464 replies6 threads Member
    I imagine the opinions and possible outcomes on this vary greatly.

    The opinions of her professors and advisors are probably key because they are the ones that likely have connections to the employers.

    But, just a personal preference, and what I would advise my child, is to chase a passion. If a person is already favoring X over Y, they are going to be energized and do very well at X. And even though a degree+co-op from Purdue will ultimately make her golden no matter which direction she chooses now, doing something very well makes for an interesting differentiator in the hiring process near graduation.
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  • lvvcsflvvcsf 2385 replies58 threads Senior Member
    The good news is that as a sophomore her future direction is not set in stone. She is doing a coop which will afford her a good opportunity to gain work experience in what I assume is a manufacturing setting (I realize there are other types of coops). If she thinks she is interested in getting a Masters or Phd. in Engineering for the purpose of doing research then it would be good to get some research experience to see if she actually likes it. As for leadership experience I would ask if she really wants to do it? Mentoring young engineers can be rewarding and provide opportunities to not only help others but to self evaluate as well. What I don't know is if the leadership position will be necessary to pursue future management opportunities. She may want to work as an engineer for a few years then make that decision.

    My D was a Chem E at Purdue and graduated about a year and a half ago. Their tracks seem very similar. She did a coop, mentored through the Society of Women Engineers and the STEP program, she did research for 2 years and determined it was not what she wanted to do. She is now employed as a Chem E and believes she would like to go into management. Is an MBA in her future? I don't know. Your D is doing all the things necessary to open a lot of doors. Sometimes you have to choose. Good problem to have! Good luck.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 8302 replies70 threads Senior Member
    @lvvcsf - Definitely sounds like my D is on a similar path.

    D really loves being a mentor (even back in HS). She also was a STEP lead intern this past summer and has her last class for her Collaborative Leadership Certification next semester. She also is active in SWE and is running for executive council of her theater group. It's something she really, really loves. I honestly think she'll end up going an MBA route after working a few years.

    And yes, her co-op is with a big polymer manufacturer.
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  • colorado_momcolorado_mom 9134 replies80 threads Senior Member
    There are pros/cons to each.

    DS had an opportunity to do research on campus after his freshman year and then some more on the side later. For him it was a great thing because it convinced him that he was NOT interested in going to grad school. That certainly made senior year easier because he concentrated soley on job search, no grad school apps.
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 5054 replies22 threads Senior Member
    My advice is to support your daughter in any directions she wants to go. What I have learned with having a Senior college daughter and Junior college engineering son is that the decisions that they made that when they followed their interests /passions have so far... Always led to great outcomes.

    She knows what she wants and has a great reason for it. I see a very successful chemical engineer on the horizon.

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  • colorado_momcolorado_mom 9134 replies80 threads Senior Member
    Also... remember, there is probably no "wrong" answer here, just a few good choices. That's a cool thing ;)
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 8302 replies70 threads Senior Member
    Thank you all for your input!

    I'll circle back with an update after D speaks to her profs/advisors and decides what she's going to do.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 8302 replies70 threads Senior Member
    Just coming back with an update. D got unanimous advice from her profs to go for the leadership position. No one thought that it would preclude her from doing research down the road or make her a less attractive candidate.

    She submitted her application just before Thanksgiving and was chosen for the Council today. She's very excited.

    Thanks to all for your input!
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 5054 replies22 threads Senior Member
    😁👍. Congratulations!!
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