Author Archives: Chase Jenson

5 Commonly Missed Opportunities for the Aspiring Undergrad

As a senior at UVU I have learned a lot from mistakes I have made and advice I have been given. As I attended my classes I discovered that a very small percentage of people in my classes were engaged in developing themselves outside of the classroom. Mentors and professors taught me that to stand out in a crowd one must be above the crowd. Similar to the movie “Yes Man,” I began to take advantage of every opportunity I could. Below are a few things that I feel are under-utilized at UVU.

Join the Psychology Club

There are a wide variety of opportunities the psychology club can offer. Whether you are a freshman interested in psychology or a senior finishing a degree, the psychology club can enhance your knowledge and network to achieve greater success. The club usually has presentations from professors and other professionals in the behavioral science field twice a month that provide tips and other interesting topics you will not hear in class. Join the UVU Psychology Club on Facebook and Twitter to receive updates and request activities that fit your interests.

Attend Events

The UVU Psychology Club is not the only organization to host cool events; UVUSA regularly invites influential guest speakers to address the student body. Admission is free of charge and the speakers are from all different backgrounds. One of the most recent speakers, Elizabeth Smart, spoke of how she overcame her abduction. These events can be useful to help you define your career interests, add another line on your curriculum vitae, or just make you smarter in general!

Boost Your Curriculum Vitae

Contributing to the UVU Psychology Club and attending presentations are great ways to add to your curriculum vitae, but there are also many more opportunities around campus. UVU service council holds weekly service events and has lists of organizations that are always in need of volunteers. Helping in the community not only makes you stand out against other applicants for grad school, but it helps you feel more fulfilled.

Get Engaged

Being engaged with what UVU has to offer will ensure that you are taking full advantage of programs and activities that are designed to make you more competitive in the workplace. Engagement week is hosted by UVU and will be held March 27- 28, 2015. It is an awesome opportunity for you to present research you have been working on and see what other’s have done. Conducting and presenting research is one of the most important aspects of applying to graduate school. UVU has many opportunities to help you fund your projects. For more information on available scholarships, visit the office of Engaged Learning at UVU.

Make Friends

Although teachers and advisors can help prepare you for a future career, nothing can replace the value of friends. As you go throughout your declared major you will likely have many classes with the same people. Take advantage of opportunities to gain friends who share your same passions and interests. Friends in your major may be facing similar struggles and can offer support a teacher or advisor might not be able to give. Having a classroom full of friends only enhances your time as an undergrad!

Journey to Grad School

As if completing my undergraduate degree, working on group research, conducting independent research and staying on top of my GPA was not enough; I recently learned that preparing for graduate school entails more, much, much more! The much more to which I am referring is fellowship applications. I stumbled upon this concept while researching graduate school opportunities, and decided I should probably understand more about what a fellowship grant is, what it might mean for me, and how to approach applying for them.

According to the IRS, a fellowship is a grant or a scholarship that is usually tax-free, and is given to a student for the purposes of research. It can be used for tuition, fees, books, supplies, and research equipment. Additionally, grant monies can also be used for room and board, and travel (for purposes of research and schooling), (irs.gov, 2014).

Yay, free money for research and graduate school, right? Not so much, there is more to it than meets the eye. The process of applying for and obtaining fellowship grants for graduate school is lengthy and detailed. However, the effort is well worth it since in doing so you will learn valuable skills for writing grants, scholarship applications and more. Additionally, if you write the application well, you will have research funds that will not only benefit your research, but help to make you a stronger candidate for graduate schools.

Most Universities offering graduate degrees in Neuropsychology, Neuroscience, and similar fields are more than happy to support graduate students through stipends, teaching assistantships, and other opportunities. This is because much of your time while in graduate studies will be spent researching, teaching, and working at the University. Depending upon your schools of choice, obtaining a fellowship grant, could be the difference of whether or not you are accepted.

As I begin the process of working through my first few fellowship applications, I will update and share my new found knowledge, point out pit falls others might fall into, and share the mistakes I may make in the process.

Utah Data Dive

Are you an undergrad in a behavior science program? Is graduate school in your future? Do you want to be able to set yourself apart from other applicants? Do you want to be a freaking genius?

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If you answered yes to any of these questions you might want to consider participating in the Utah Data Dive Spring 2015 (http://utahdatadive.org/).

You might be asking yourself “What is a data dive?”

What is a Data Dive?

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Sadly, it has nothing to do with Star Trek or scuba diving. Rather, a data dive is a type of service project that helps local non-profit organizations understand and use their data. Data can be very helpful in making important decisions, but most people at these organizations don’t know how to work with data. The data that organizations have is so large that it requires special skills to work with, or the data might be in a strange format that isn’t conducive to the standard row and column spread sheet.

Many non-profits find that they fall in the latter of the two categories of this predicament. The data dive provides a solution to these problems. We simply put a whole bunch of nerds in a room with computers and food for 48 hours and they analyze, interpreter, and visualize the data. Now I know what you’re thinking “I don’t have any special skills to work with big data, and I hated my statistics course”. You still have a few different options on how to help out.

How You Can Help!

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First, we need facilitators. Computer nerds are not very good at collaborating, which can cause problems in a data dive. With limited time donated by volunteers, we need to make sure that we are being productive. That is where the facilitators come in. Facilitators make sure that each team makes status reports regularly to stop work from being duplicated.

Second, because the data dive is still a few months away, you can try to pick up a skill such as analysis, interpretation, or visualization.

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Learn the programming language R http://www.r-project.org/ with free software downloads and wonderful learning tools online (also free), and you could be up and running in a very short time. Another option is visualization, most of the volunteers from the community will already have the skills to analyze and interpret the data, but to drive the message home we need to show the data. You can learn to use the program Tableau to help with the visualization process http://www.tableausoftware.com/public/community. This is also a free program with a very active community to help you learn to use this tool.

So how does this help you with getting into graduate school? Aside from being able to list your participation on your resume or CV, participation in the data dive also shows that you have leadership skills, statistical skills, and that you care about the good of the community and university. Because most people in the behavior science fields hate doing statistics, if you can show you used special skills in that area to produce something useful it just might boost your chances of landing a spot in a program you want to attend.

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If graduate school isn’t in your future the data dive can still be helpful. Did you know that the median income for an analyst who is fluent in R is $70,000? Add freaking awesome Tableau skills to that and you have a pretty good career. All you need is any degree and the ability to manipulate data and the Utah data dive can be your first step toward fluency in R and becoming a Tableau Jedi.

So just remember if you want to be a freaking genius, strut your stuff at the Utah data dive spring 2015: http://utahdatadive.org/.